LafargeHolcim Is Said to Weigh Options for Mideast, Africa Unit

(Bloomberg) -- LafargeHolcim Ltd. is weighing options for its operations in the Middle East and Africa, including asset sales, as it continues to prune back its activities outside of Europe, people familiar with the matter said.

The Swiss cement firm has held preliminary discussions with potential advisers about selling all or part of the business as well as pursuing an initial public offering, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The company may struggle to find buyers for the whole business due to challenging operational and market conditions, the people said. Selling selected assets or pursuing listings may be more feasible, two of them said.

LafargeHolcim may seek to value the entire business at as much as $8 billion, two of the people said. The company, which may still decide against selling the asset, hasn’t started a formal process and banks haven’t been mandated, the people said.

A representative for LafargeHolcim declined to comment.

LafargeHolcim is selling off assets that don’t contribute to its core business to reduce its debt levels. The cement giant is also exploring options for its business in the Philippines, people familiar with the matter said last month. LafargeHolcim agreed to sell its Indonesian arm for $1.75 billion in November.

In March, Chief Executive Officer Jan Jenisch announced a turnaround plan for Europe’s largest cement maker -- cutting jobs and pledging to focus on fewer markets -- as the company reeled from a French probe into past operations in Syria and a 2017 net loss and writedown. Jenisch said in May that turning around operations in Africa and the Middle East, where profit was falling, would be his toughest challenge in 2018.

In 2008, Lafarge acquired Orascom Construction Industries’s cement unit, which was valued at 8.8 billion euros ($10.1 billion) and included plants in Egypt, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.

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