Grandville cement plant to get new ownership after FTC action in LafargeHolcim merger

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US: According to local media MiBiz, the planned merger of Lafarge and Holcim will result in a new owner for a Holcim-owned cement plant in Grandville and could lead to more competitive cement pricing in the West Michigan market.

In response to an antitrust complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the LafargeHolcim merger 'would likely substantially lessen competition,' in 12 US markets, including in Grand Rapids, the parties have agreed to divest 24 facilities in North America. Among the sites is a Holcim (US) -owned cement plant in Grandville, which the company plans to sell to Buzzi Unicem USA. The acquisition of the Grandville plant should be completed in July 2015, according to Patrick Lydon, vice president and general counsel at Buzzi Unicem. Lydon said that the Grandville plant would be the company's first venture into the Michigan market. He does not expect any significant changes to operations.

The FTC weighed in on the proposed merger to create LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement company with a projected US$35bn in annual revenues, because it said that the acquisition would further concentrate the industry in 12 'already highly-concentrated' markets. In the affected markets, Holcim and Lafarge are either the only two suppliers of Portland cement or slag cement or are 'at most' two of just four suppliers.

"If the merger between Holcim and Lafarge went through as originally planned, it would have likely had a short-term impact, but even more of an impact on long-term competitive pricing," said Greg Kerkstra, president and CEO of Grandville-based Kerkstra Precast Inc. "Now that the FTC has determined a divestiture of some of these assets in particular markets, that could actually encourage even more competition than before the merger, in our eyes."

Other affected markets in Michigan include Detroit and northern Michigan. Holcim is selling a cement terminal in Elmira, Michigan to Buzzi Unicem and it is seeking buyers for terminals in Detroit and Dundee.