November 21, 2017 / 10:21 AM / 2 years ago

Big spending building materials maker CRH on lookout for more deals

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s CRH (CRH.I), the world’s third-largest building materials group by market capitalization, said on Tuesday it has capacity on its balance sheet for more deals, after a spending spree this year.

It said it is refocusing on North America and announced it had spent $750 million on cement acquisitions in Florida, making it the largest building materials company in the state.

CRH recently secured a deal to buy U.S. cement maker Ash Grove Cement Co ASHG.PK for $3.5 billion to strengthen its grip in North America, and last week it joined the race for South African cement maker PPC (PPCJ.J).

The group, which is part funding some of the deals through the sale of its U.S. distribution business for $2.6 billion in cash, also said that it spent 1.34 billion euros ($1.6 billion) on 27 smaller acquisitions in the first nine months of the year.

“Our net debt to EBITDA position should be at the 2-times range, well below our long-run average of 2.2 and still leaves us in a position where we have capacity on the balance sheet where we can do deals as they present themselves,” CRH finance director Senan Murphy told an analyst call.

Chief Executive Albert Manifold said the recent deals were a “very deliberate attempt” to refocus the group on North America - where it is the biggest maker of concrete products - and in particular faster-growing states like Texas and Florida.

He said he would not expect any very significant deals in new markets and the group would not overinvest in developing economies.

“We believe, for the moment, that the future of our business is based mainly around the Americas and Europe,” Manifold said.

CRH said its EBITDA rose 2 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of the year on an identical rise in sales in Europe and the United States, where some operations were affected by adverse weather and hurricane activity.

It expects full year EBITDA in excess of 3.2 billion euros, up from 3.13 billion in the prior year.

($1 = 0.8534 euros)

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Susan Fenton

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