Lafarge, Holcim shares rise on private equity bid report

Reuters

(Adds no comments from Holcim, Lafarge, background, updates shares)

LONDON/ZURICH June 4 (Reuters) - Private equity companies CVC and KKR are considering bids for assets Holcim and Lafarge must sell to get the go-ahead for their merger, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

The two cement makers said in April they planned to merge to create the world's biggest cement maker with $44 billion in annual sales, but would need to shed around 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) in assets to persuade regulators to give the green light to the deal.

The report said CVC and KKR were considering a $6.8 billion bid for some of the assets to be sold by Paris-based Lafarge and Holcim of Switzerland, as part of the planned merger.

Shares in the two companies rose in response to the report. Lafarge was up 3.3 percent by 1200 GMT, while Holcim's shares were up by 2.6 percent.

A spokesman for Holcim declined to comment on the report, but said a wide array of potential buyers have indicated their interest in some of the two cement makers' assets:

"Details on potential divestments are currently being discussed between the two companies," the spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Lafarge also declined to comment. CVC and KKR were not immediately available for comment.

One banker close to the deal said the divestment process was still at a very early stage and that the two companies had not yet firmly decided what they planned to sell.

Two-thirds of the divestments are expected to affect western Europe, but there are also overlapping operations in India, China, Canada and Brazil.

Holcim said at the end of April that it had seen "huge" interest in assets from players in both mature and emerging markets as well as private equity. ($1 = 0.7342 Euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Oliver Hirt, Caroline Copley, Gilles Guillaume, Sophie Sassard and Anjuli Davies.; Editing by Lionel Laurent and Jane Merriman)

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