Acquisition spend by materials giant could top last year’s figure of €600m

CRH’s acquisition and investment spend for 2013 could eclipse last year’s total of €600m; with nearly €500m worth of deals already agreed and more investments likely in the coming months.

At the group’s annual general meeting in Dun Laoghaire yesterday management said that €385m has been spent on 15 transactions since the start of the year. In its last update — at the time of the publication of its annual results, in February — CRH said that €200m, or so, had been spent in the first two months of 2013.

That means that nearly another €200m was spent during March and April. Furthermore, last week’s announcement of the €96m takeover of Ukrainian company Mykolaiv Cement — which still requires regulatory approval before being completed — will bring CRH’s first half spend to nearly €500m. In total, last year, the building materials group spent €600m on acquisitions and investments, following a spend of €630m in 2011. Proceeds from disposals, this year, have amounted to about €180m.

CRH has spent €2.2bn since Myles Lee took over as chief executive in 2009. Speaking in February, Mr Lee said that a similar spending pattern — to the past couple of years — was likely in 2013, with the investment pipeline good, in terms of opportunities.

Speaking after yesterday’s AGM, Mr Lee said that management had done some “chunkier” deals of late and that there are “a number of things we’re looking at”.

A year-and-a-half ago, CRH set up an office in Moscow to look at expansion opportunities in Russia — a market it has looked at entering for the past ten years. It has also just set up a similar operation in Singapore. Shareholders heard yesterday that the group will increasingly look east in terms of expansion in the coming years, with Eastern Europe, India and China set to be main focuses.

Mr Lee also noted yesterday that work has begun in earnest on the search for his successor.

He is set to step down as chief executive at the end of this year.


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