labels: construction, saint gobain, m&a, restructuring
Saint-Gobain to acquire Maxit Group from news
08 August 2007

The world''s biggest building materials maker, France''s Cie de Saint-Gobain SA, will acquire industrial mortar maker Maxit Group from HeidelbergCement AG, Germany''s largest cement maker, for €2.1 billion ($2.9 billion).

HeidelbergCement will use proceeds from the sale of Maxit to fund its £8 billion acquisition of Britain''s Hanson plc, which it agreed in May.

The purchase would double Saint-Gobain''s sales at its industrial mortars division to about €2.2 billion and make it the market leader in mortars in Germany and Scandinavia, complementing operations in France and southern Europe.

Saint-Gobain''s offer values Maxit, at about 11 times estimated operating income for 2007 after accounting for expected cost savings of about €30 million, said Saint-Gobain. Maxit had sales of €1.2 billion in 2006 and operating income before depreciation of €179 million.

Standard & Poor''s Ratings Services placed Saint-Gobain''s `BBB+'' long-term credit ratings on watch for possible downgrade in response to the announcement of the Maxit purchase, saying there were doubts over the company''s ability to restore its funds-to-debt ratio to levels appropriate for that category.

The French company has been aggressively pursuing the mergers and divestment trail restructuring its operations. During the year it has made 35 acquisitions, including the $7-billion hostile takeover of British plastics maker BPB plc in November 2006.

It has also divested about $2.3 billion of assets, including its reinforcements and composites unit to Owens Corning Inc. for $640 million in July, a bottling unit, Desjonquères, to private equity houses Sagard SAS and Cognetas LLP for $890 million in January, and Calmar, a plastic pump maker, to MeadWestvaco Corp. for $745 million in April 2006.

Saint-Gobain says the synergies of the acquisition would lead to savings of €30 million within three years from combining the operations and said the purchase price is equal to 13 times Maxit''s estimated operating profit of 163 million euros for this year.


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