UPDATE 2-Cemex to list 24 pct of unit on Colombian stock market

Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:38am EDT

BOGOTA Oct 19 (Reuters) - Mexico's top cement maker Cemex said on Friday it plans to list about 24 percent of its Cemex Latam Holdings unit on the Colombian stock market in the latest step to raise cash to help it ease bulky debts.

Cemex Latam Holdings, which includes Cemex's cement and ready-mix assets in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, will offer an aggregate of 126.6 million of its common shares.

About 110.1 million shares will be put up for grabs in a public offering to investors in Colombia and in a concurrent private placement to eligible investors outside Colombia, Cemex said in a release.

Another 16.5 million shares will be offered in a private placement, subject to a 30-day put option granted to the initial purchasers of the private placement.

"Cemex Latam expects to apply the net proceeds of the offerings to the repayment of indebtedness owed to Cemex, who, in turn, expects to apply the net proceeds of it to general corporate purposes, including the repayment of indebtedness," the company said.

Prior to the offerings, all of Cemex Latam Holdings 407.9 million outstanding common shares were owned by the Cemex Espana unit.

The company did not say how much it expected to receive from the transaction but analysts have estimated the amount could start at $750 million.

While Cemex said the timing of the deal would depend on market conditions, a preliminary offering calendar obtained by Reuters showed Cemex Latam Holdings could start trading in mid-November.

Cemex shares slipped 0.17 percent to 11.80 pesos in early dealings on Friday while its New York-traded stock fell 0.43 percent to $9.18.

Cemex was hurt by the 2008 U.S. housing meltdown shortly after paying $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker. It has been digging itself out of deep debt for the past three years.

Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano, who has headed the company since 1985, has been under pressure and has sought to reassure investors that the former emerging market darling can recover.

Cemex shares plunged to 13-year lows late last year on doubts over whether Zambrano could turn around its finances, but have since soared.

Creditors of the Monterrey-based company recently agreed to refinance the company's debt.

Cemex also wrapped up a $7.2 billion refinancing package that provided much-needed room to push back looming debt payments for up to four years. The umbrella deal also included a debt swap, a $1 billion prepayment and revised financial covenants.