UPDATE 1-Mexico's Cemex sees U.S. sales growth slipping in 2013

Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:28pm EDT

* CEO Zambrano says debt position "calm"

* U.S. sales volume growth rate to dip to 8 pct from 14 pct

* Could issue debt to lower costs, but doesn't "need to"

MONTERREY, March 21 (Reuters) - Mexico's cement maker Cemex expects sales growth in the United States to slow this year, the firm's top executive said, adding that the company could place debt if it could secure lower financing costs.

Cemex has been struggling to turn around its debt-laden business since the U.S. housing crisis. U.S. sales have been rising as the housing market slowly recovers.

Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Zambrano said on Thursday that U.S. sales volume growth would be 8 percent this year compared with a 14 percent rise in 2012, due to higher taxes and government spending cuts in the United States.

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

"We are in a calm position, we have 34 months where we do not have to make any payments," Zambrano said. He suggested the company could look to issue new debt if it could get lower interest rates. "But we do not need to do this," he said.

Cemex recently placed $600 million in debt that it said it would use to pay down some of its other debts.

Cemex's Mexico traded shares dipped 0.39 percent on Thursday. The stock hit its highest in about 3-1/2 years last week, backed by growing optimism for the U.S. housing market.

The company wrapped up a refinancing package last year that gave it much-needed room to push back looming debt payments for up to four years.

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