CRH ‘development’ activity approaches $9 billion in watershed year

Sources: CRH Plc, Dublin; CP staff

Crunching numbers on deals affecting operations in North America, Europe and Asia, CRH closed 2015 with about $8.8 billion in acquisitions, and divestments netting proceeds near $1 billion. Anchoring the calendar was a $7.2 billion transaction for the lion’s share of cement, concrete and aggregate production assets Lafarge S.A. and Holcim Ltd. sold in conjunction with their July merger.

“Portfolio management, and in particular the reallocation of capital from lower growth areas into core businesses for growth, is a cornerstone of our value creation model,” noted CRH Chief Executive Albert Manifold in a 2015 Development Strategy Update. Targeted bolt-on investments strengthened North American and European businesses, he added, while divestments in a multi-year streamlining program reached $1.5 billion.

In North America, the company transitioned the Holcim (Canada) Inc. enterprise and limited Holcim (US) Inc. operations to CRH Canada Group, a companion to the Atlanta-based Oldcastle Inc. flagship. Oldcastle logged 14 divestments, totaling nearly $300 million, and 15 acquisitions valued at about $155 million. Oldcastle Materials disposed of four non-core operations and completed an asset exchange, nine bolt-on acquisitions, and three companion deals—the latter two adding annualized sales of $200 million and 250 million-plus tons of aggregate reserves.

Oldcastle Products sold six operations across the United States, including Merchant Metals, a fencing system and perimeter control product distributor, plus all of its businesses in Argentina and Chile. Three transactions in 2015 added annualized sales of $55 million. Outside of Products and Materials businesses, the Oldcastle Envelope business saw significant expansion with the $1.3 billion acquisition of C.R. Laurence Co., a Los Angeles-based glazing hardware and installation specialist.

Aside from assimilation of former Lafarge and Holcim businesses, CRH Europe reported 15 divestments last year—led by an equity stake in an operation based in Israel, plus non-core ready mixed and manufactured-concrete production assets—and five acquisitions complementing materials and distribution businesses. Most notable among concrete production investments were the addition of a paving stone plant in Poland and launch of a joint venture tied to existing ready mixed operations in Russia.

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