This week saw Lafarge and Holcim announce a list of proposed asset divestments following months of research by a Divestment Committee. The mass divestment is planned so that competition authorities around the world can approve the proposed Euro40bn merger of equals to produce LafargeHolcim. When the merger was initially proposed on 7 April 2014, Lafarge and Holcim estimated that some Euro5bn of asset disposals would be necessary and they are already well on their way.
Europe is facing the brunt of asset divestments, as this is where the companies have the largest market overlap. Holcim plans to sell all of its assets in Hungary and Serbia, while Lafarge will sell all of its assets in Germany, Romania and the UK (with one possible cement plant exception). In Austria, Lafarge has opted to divest its Mannersdorf cement plant, while in France it would sell its Reunion Island assets (excluding its shareholding in Ciments de Bourbon). Holcim plans to sell all of its assets in France except for its Altkirch cement plant and aggregates and ready-mix sites in the Alsace Region.
Elsewhere in the world, Holcim plans to sell all of its assets in Canada and Mauritius. In the Philippines the companies plan to combine the operations of Lafarge Republic Inc and Holcim Philippines Inc and to divest Lafarge's Bulacan, Norzagaray and Iligan plants. In Brazil, where Lafarge and Holcim both have a significant presence, the companies plan to announce their intentions after collaboration with CADE, the country's competition authority. There is little market overlap in most of Asia and the Middle East: Lafarge's assets in Malaysia and Syria complement Holcim's strong presence in India and Indonesia.
So far, Lafarge has consolidated its African operations by establishing Lafarge Africa and selling its assets in Ecuador. Holcim has been granted approval from the European Competition Commission to purchase Cemex West in Germany and, most recently, Lafarge has announced that it intends to buy out its joint venture partner, Anglo American, from Lafarge Tarmac in order to sell the entire business.
While the asset divestment list shows good will to global competition authorities, there remains no guarantee that Lafarge and Holcim will not need to divest even more assets. However, by nominating such a large number of divestments in the first instance, the companies have shown willing to cooperate with anti-monopoly measures, potentially easing the path of the LafargeHolcim mega-merger.