Firm’s takeover policy scaled back

CRH, which has spent well over €1 billion a year in acquisitions over several years, reported a sharp reduction in takeovers in the second half of 2008.

Over the period CRH paid out €273m on 16 acquisitions and investments. That reflected the sharp deterioration in the group’s global trading environment.

The group’s investment in new deals was significantly higher at €700m in the first half of the 2008.

CRH is Ireland’s most acquisitive company and has been very active in he US market in particular for several years. To date it has spent nearly €3bn expanding its interests in the world’s biggest economy.

As a result about half of total sales are generated in the US market, which it first entered in 1978.

Last year CRH spent about €1bn on buyouts, including a €200m investment in Chinese cement maker, Jilin Yatai Group.

That is well below the €2.2bn it shelled out on acquisitions in 2007, and it reflects a major softening in the construction sector.

“We are not totally out of the acquisition game,” chief executive Myles Lee said. “We will continue to do deals we feel are compelling. But there is certainly a much greater focus on the operational side of the business.”

Lee was formerly finance director and took over as chief executive this month from Liam O’Mahony.

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