LafargeHolcim’s deal to sell Philippines business collapses

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of LafargeHolcim, the world’s largest cement maker, is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) – LafargeHolcim’s (LHN.S) deal to sell its Philippines business, valued at $2.15 billion, has failed after the country’s competition authority did not give approval in time.

The world’s biggest cement maker announced the sale of its entire 85.7% stake to industrial group San Miguel Corporation (SMC.PS) in May 2019 and was expected to complete the transaction by the end of 2019.

The deal, which included four cement plants and one grinding plant, was subject to approval from the Philippines Competition Authority (PCC).

“The PCC did not issue an approval of the transaction within the required time period and consequently the agreement lapsed,” LafargeHolcim said on Monday.

The collapse is a blow for LafargeHolcim, which was offloading assets to pay down debt and wanted to exit from what it has previously called the “hyper-competitive” South-East Asia market.

The Swiss company has also quit Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, where its businesses together with the Philippines operation were worth $4.9 billion.

LafargeHolcim also said three of its four plants in the Philippines that had been shut down due to the coronavirus crisis had now resumed operations.

The company did not say if it was seeking another buyer or hoping to resume the sale to San Miguel, which also has operations in food, beverages, packaging, fuel and power sectors.

Lafarge said in a statement it would focus on strengthening its operations in the Philippines.

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