The merger would create a business with combined annual sales of €32bn (£26.4bn). Completion is expected by the end of the first half of next year, subject to obtaining regulatory approvals.
The two companies said that the combination could deliver significant benefits to customers, employees and shareholders. They see themselves as being close in culture and as having complementary portfolios. Parallel statements from both said that the discussions are based on principles consistent with a merger of equals, building on the strengths and identities of the two companies.
LafargeHolcim would occupy complementary positions, said the companies, and would carry out a divestment process in anticipation of regulatory requirements. Combined operations would include production sites located in 90 countries, with none accounting for more than about 10% of combined revenues.
Holcim chairman Rolf Soiron said: “This proposed merger is a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver substantially better value to customers with more innovation, a wider range of products and solutions and more sustainability and enhanced returns to shareholders. LafargeHolcim will be uniquely positioned to take advantage of growth in developed markets and the world’s fastest growing economies by supplying the materials that will enable the construction industry to meet the challenges of the future.
Bruno Lafont, chairman and CEO of Lafarge, said: “I am very proud to propose today this new chapter in Lafarge’s long industrial history which is the fruit of the commitment of our people over the years. By combining Holcim’s experienced teams, complementary geographies and innovative expertise with ours, we propose to set up the most advanced group in the construction industry, for the benefit of our clients, our employees and our shareholders.”
He added: “For years, I have had the utmost respect for Holcim. The merger of Lafarge and Holcim will allow the group with strong roots in Europe to enter into a new dimension in our ambition to contribute to building better cities on a global scale and in a sustainable manner.”
Last year brought considerable change in the cement and concrete sector in the UK, with the creation by Lafarge and Anglo American of both Lafarge Tarmac and Hope. Hope was formed from parts of Lafarge and Tarmac to satisfy Competition Commission requirements.