* Assets sold for 285 mln stg to Mittal family
* Deal a condition of approval for UK building materials JV
* Could ease fears of ArcelorMittal rights issue-analyst
* Lafarge to get around 160 mln eur from disposals
By Elena Berton and Clara Ferreira-Marques
PARIS/LONDON, Nov 16 Cement maker Lafarge
and miner Anglo American have agreed to sell
British assets for up to 285 million pounds ($452 million),
clearing the way for a building materials joint venture in the
The sale, to Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, was a
condition set by Britain's Competition Commission to allow the
two firms to combine their building materials activities.
Lafarge and Anglo said on Friday they would sell a number of
construction materials operations in Britain as well as Anglo
unit Tarmac's 50 percent interest in Midland Quarry Products,
one of the UK's main suppliers of hard rock and asphalts.
Nomura analysts said the deal could be seen as a positive
for investors fretting over a potential rights issue at the
Mittal family's debt-burdened flagship asset, ArcelorMittal
, the world's largest steelmaker.
"Spending $450 million on construction material assets now
does not necessarily sound like someone who is thinking about
imminently piling in a few billion dollars into his steel
business as part of an equity raise," they said.
Anglo, refocusing on core mining activities, struggled for
more than three years to find a buyer for Tarmac before agreeing
last year to a joint venture with France-based Lafarge's British
cement, aggregates, concrete and asphalt businesses.
The price for the assets, which include one of the UK's
largest cement plants, includes up to 30 million pounds
contingent on future performance.
A Lafarge spokeswoman said the company would receive around
160 million euros ($205 million) from the sale of its British
assets, which it would use to cut its debt.
She added that with this deal, Lafarge had raised nearly 650
million euros from asset sales this year against a target of at
least 1 billion euros.
The French company has been shedding non-core assets and
refocusing on its cement and concrete business after the debt it
racked up to acquire Middle Eastern cement maker Orascom in 2007
led to the loss of its investment-grade credit rating last year.
Britain's Competition Commission began looking into the
proposed venture, which would have rung up annual sales worth
1.8 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) in 2010, after the tie-up was
challenged by the country's consumer affairs watchdog, the
Office of Fair Trading, in September last year.
Lafarge's Hope cement plant in northern England is one of
the largest in Britain, and regulators hoped its sale will bring
in a new player to maintain the current level of competition.
The UK cement market is dominated by Lafarge, Tarmac, Cemex
and HeidelbergCement's Hanson.
Lafarge shares were up 0.2 percent at 45.72 euros on the
CAC40 index in early trade, while Anglo American was
trading 0.3 percent higher at 1,695 pence on London's FTSE100
index. ArcelorMittal shares were 0.1 percent higher.