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Ireland's biggest company is offloading over €500 million in clay and concrete

But there’s still plenty more to be put up for sale…

Image: CRH

BUILDING-MATERIALS FIRM CRH has struck a deal to offload over €500m in its clay and concrete operations in the UK and US.

The company, Ireland’s biggest firm by turnover – worth some €18 billion last year – announced this morning it was selling four businesses for a total of £414 million (€522 million) to private investment firm Bain Capital.

The sale includes its UK and US clay businesses, as well as two concrete firms across the channel. The combined operations turned a pre-tax profit of £16 million (€20.2 million) last year.

CRH said Bain would take over “certain debt and pension liabilities” for the operations it was selling so the total cash it would get for the trade was £295 million (€372 million).

The deal is expected to be finished in the first half of 2015 subject to regulatory approval.

The multinational building materials giant had previously been spending big on acquisitions – which were worth some €630 million in 2012.

Assets worth €2 billion under the hammer

But it has recently been unwinding some of its deals as part of a plan to shed up to €2 billion in peripheral businesses under new chief executive Albert Manifold. The latest sale takes the total realised so far to about €900 million.

CRH Interim Business Results CRH chief executive Albert Manifold, centre, with the man he replaced in the job, Myles Lee, right Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Last year CRH recorded a pre-tax loss of €215 million after a decade of profits. The previous year it made €674 million.

It has also been embroiled in industrial action in Ireland with workers striking over pay cuts several times over the past 3 years.

Earlier in 2012 Jobs Minister Richard Bruton was forced to deny any conflict of interest over his shareholding in the company and his refusal to order an investigation of alleged anti-competitive practices in the materials industry.

CRH was formed in 1970 through the merger of Irish Cement and another Irish company, Roadstone. At the time, it was the only cement producer in the country.

It now has operations in 35 countries and employs about 76,000 people.

READ: What do the bosses at Ireland’s top firms look like? Still mostly male and over 60 >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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