EU approves St-Gobain's purchase of Maxit Group

BRUSSELS, March 4 (Reuters) - St-Gobain SGOB.PA, the world's biggest building materials group, won conditional permission from the European Commission on Tuesday to buy clay and mortar company Maxit Group from Germany's HeidelbergCement HEIG.DE.

The companies said earlier that the transaction was based on an enterprise value of 2.125 billion euros ($3.23 billion) for Maxit, representing around 11 times Maxit’s estimated operating income for 2007 after cost synergies.

The Commission, the European Union’s top competition regulator, said the companies each did business in premix mortar, used for masonry and tile fixing, and in gypsum. Gypsum is a raw material used for cement, ceramics and plasters.

It said the deal as initially proposed would have created serious competition problems for natural gypsum in Germany, natural anhydrite in Austria, gypsum-based semi-finished products in Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and gypsum-based plasters for ceramics throughout the EU and the three other countries that make up the European Economic Area.

“To address the Commission’s concerns, Saint-Gobain offered to divest two Maxit subsidiaries, Suedharzer Gipswerk GmbH and Maxit Baustoffe GmbH,” the Commission said in a statement. (Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Dale Hudson)