* Two largest cement makers seeking approval for tie-up
* France, Germany, Britain, eastern Europe to see selloffs
* Asset sales to affect over 10,000 workers in total
* Deal still on track for first half 2015 completion
(Adds detail on workers affected, capacity, Lafarge Tarmac)
By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS, July 7 Cement makers Lafarge SA
and Holcim Ltd proposed a multi-billion euro series of
asset sales on Monday as they seek regulatory approval for their
merger to create the world's biggest cement maker.
The two companies need to shed assets generating about 5
billion euros ($6.8 billion) in annual revenue to help persuade
competition watchdogs to back the proposed deal, unveiled in
April and which would create a combined group with $44 billion
in yearly sales.
The companies said they would seek buyers for operations in
Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Britain, Canada, the
Philippines, Mauritius and Brazil, a series of sell-offs that
would affect some 10,000 workers out of their global total of
130,000 and account for around 3.5 billion euros of sales.
Competition regulators in some 15 countries, as well as the
European Commission, are expected to take a hard look at the
deal, which brings together the world's top two cement makers
with a combined stock market value of more than $55 billion.
Europe's top competition regulator, Joaquin Almunia, has
said the merger would be subject to an in-depth review, known as
a phase 2 examination.
Holcim Chief Executive Bernard Fontana said the companies
had already received about 50 expressions of interest from
potential buyers and would soon begin negotiations.
He said the assets had been selected based on their
geographical and industrial overlap and how swiftly they could
be sold at a good price. He did not elaborate.
"This list represents most of the assets that both companies
consider divesting as part of the planned merger. Other
divestments will be unveiled in due time," Fontana told
reporters on a conference call.
One unit for sale is a joint venture with mining group Anglo
American Plc, which said it would sell to Lafarge its 50
percent stake for at least 885 million pounds ($1.5 billion) so
the French group could then sell off the whole business.
Lafarge Tarmac employs around 6,000 workers. Lafarge's
German operations for sale employ some 368 people.
Fontana added that the companies planned to officially apply
for approval from EU competition regulators this summer. The
tie-up is expected to be completed in the first half of 2015.
Shares in Lafarge were up 0.2 percent and shares in Holcim
down 0.4 percent by 0945 GMT.
"There's no surprise in this list, and it's not over yet,"
said analyst Abdelkader Benchiha at investment bank Natixis.
"More assets will have to be sold, maybe in India, the United
States, or some of the countries already listed, like France."
He expects the groups to raise between 5 billion euros and 6
billion in total from asset sales.
Both Lafarge and Holcim have repeatedly said their merger,
which would create a group with global headquarters in Zurich,
would not entail any plant closures or industrial job cuts.
In terms of capacity, the assets for sale represent about 27
million tonnes of cement, 79 million tonnes of aggregates and 10
million tonnes of ready-to-use concrete, Fontana said.
($1 = 0.7345 euros)
(Additional reporting by Leila Abboud and Natalie Huet; Editing
by Jason Neely and David Holmes)