Lafarge to sell Honduras cement operations to Cementos Argos for $306 mn

LafargeLafarge today agreed to sell its majority stake in its cement business in Honduras to Cementos Argos for €232 million ($306 million) as part of the French cement giant plan to reduce debt.

Lafarge owns 53.3 per cent of the Honduran subsidiary, Lafarge Cementos SA de CV.

The assets sold comprise an integrated cement plant with a capacity of 1 million tons and a grinding station with a 0.3 million tons capacity.

The sale comes two years after the Paris-based company sold its Australian gypsum business to privately-owned German rival Knauf Group for $172 million.

Lafarge, which posted sales of €15.8 billion in 2012, is a global producer of building materials including cement, aggregates and concrete, and gypsum.

It also sold its North American gypsum unit in June to private equity firm Lone Star for $700 million.

Lafarge had said in May that it will cut net debt below €10 billion ($13 billion) towards the second half of the year as it sheds assets and caps spending.

But the 178 year-old company, which had incurred most of its debt to fund its €8.8 billion acquisition of Egypt's Orascom Cement in 2007, has been seeking to expand in emerging nations, especially in China, India, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Lafarge is currently focusing on increasing sales, cash generation and return on capital, rather than the expansion it had earlier been going after.

It has now shifted its focus to developing countries, with Africa and Middle East being its main target, which brings in  22.5 per cent of its revenues.