Cemex takes broadly upbeat view of Holcim, Lafarge merger

MEXICO CITY Fri May 23, 2014 11:29am EDT

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MEXICO CITY May 23 (Reuters) - Mexican cement maker Cemex said on Friday it expected the planned merger between its rivals Lafarge SA and Holcim Ltd to be broadly positive for the industry, and is open to exploring acquisitions that may result from it.

"Our own view is that it will have a neutral to positive impact on the industry," Cemex Chief Executive Officer Fernando Gonzalez said of the tie-up on a call with analysts.

Holcim and Lafarge, the world's two leading cement makers in terms of sales, agreed last month to the industry's biggest-ever merger, which should helped reduce overcapacity that has plagued the sector in recent years.

Competition watchdogs are expected to study the deal, which will create a global cement player with $44 billion in annual sales and a market value close to $60 billion.

To appease the regulators, Lafarge and Holcim expect to sell assets worth 5 billion euros ($6.97 billion) in annual sales, mainly in Western Europe, and Gonzalez was asked whether Cemex might look to buy anything that was up for grabs.

"We are not in a rush, we are not in a hurry, but we are always open to explore possibilities," he said.

Gonzalez also noted that if the company were to acquire other businesses, its bias was towards emerging markets and suggested it was unlikely to buy in the United States for now.

"We have enough U.S. assets to take advantage of the recovery," the CEO said. (Reporting by Dave Graham and Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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