Lafarge unit attracts PE bid interest: sources

By Julien Ponthus

PARIS (Reuters) – The European arm of Lafarge’s (LAFP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) plaster unit has attracted bid interest from private equity funds, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The funds are not, however, interested in making an offer for the whole plaster division, the sources said. “It’s Europe that interests them,” one of the sources told Reuters.

BNP Paribas and Citi have been mandated to study a sale of the whole plaster division but have not launched a formal auction process, the sources added.

Lafarge, the world’s biggest cement maker, is targeting 750 million euros ($1.07 billion) of disposals this year in order to reduce its debt.

The company could sell the plaster unit in separate geographic blocks, although Lafarge has not taken a definitive decision to sell, the sources said.

The plaster division, the smallest at the company, generated about 9 percent of the group’s sales last year, with revenue of 1.4 billion euros and current operating profit of 58 million. It is estimated to be worth between 1 and 2 billion euros.

Lafarge has a market value of around 13 billion euros.

Lafarge and the banks declined to comment.

($1=.6996 Euro)

(Additional reporting by Nina Sovich and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by James Regan)

Lafarge unit attracts PE bid interest: sources