Anne-Sylvaine Chassany and Francois de Beaupuy in Bloomberg report Lafarge SA
, "Europe’s most indebted cement maker" and international owner of the Ravena cement plant, may sell its gypsum business, "four people familiar with the situation said."
"Firms including TPG Capital, Carlyle Group LP and PAI Partners are preparing for a sale this year and may consider bids for all or parts of the operations, said the people, who requested anonymity as Lafarge hasn’t made a decision. A sale may not happen soon because the U.S. unit is still unprofitable and Lafarge may wait for a recovery, the people said. The unit may fetch at least 450 million euros ($605 million) or even top 1 billion euros, provided profit recovers, analysts said. Chief Executive Officer Bruno Lafont, who ran the unit until 2003, has pledged to step up disposals to cut debt. The cement maker aims to retain investment-grade credit ratings after borrowing to make a $15 billion acquisition in North Africa in early 2008, just before a construction slump in Europe and the U.S. set in. 'The gypsum business is less and less at the core of the group’s strategy, which wants to focus on cement and emerging markets,' Rafic El Haddad, an analyst at Natixis in Paris, said in an interview. 'It looks like a business for private equity firms. Industrial players can’t buy it for antitrust reasons.'"
Here in the states, Lafarge has launched a new website
for its continental operations, claiming it is, "North America's largest building material supplier."