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Concrete giants set for £26bn merger after new terms agreed

The on-off merger between cement giants Holcim and Lafarge has been saved after the two companies agreed to new terms late last week.

The transformative £26bn tie-up had looked in doubt a week ago when the Holcim board rejected an offer from its French counterpart.

It is thought the original one-for-one share swap was deemed unacceptable by Holcim after its recent financial performance outstripped that of Lafarge, partly down to currency exchange rate changes.

However, a new exchange ratio of nine Holcim shares for 10 Lafarge shares has now been agreed, putting the merger back on track.

The deal, which is now expected to close in July pending shareholder approval, is still being described as “a merger of equals”.

Despite this, the original proposal to install Lafarge chief executive Bruno Lafont in the same role at the combined firm has also been axed.

Instead, Mr Lafont will become one of two co-chairmen, with a new chief executive now expected to be proposed by the Lafarge board and approved by the Holcim board.

Holcim chairman Wolfgang Reitzle, who will take up the other co-chairman role at the new firm, said: “I am very pleased that we are now able to proceed with our project to create a truly outstanding global leader in building materials.

“Bruno Lafont and I will work closely together to ensure the value creation potential of this merger will be realised for the benefits of all shareholders.

“I want to highlight that Bruno has made a tremendous contribution to getting us this far and that I am very confident in our ability to work together in the new board.”

Mr Lafont added: “The new company will gather best-in-class teams of our sector with the strength of our two combined companies.”

The merger will also see Lafarge sell off some of its European businesses, with Irish materials company CRH agreeing a deal to buy a number of subsidiaries, including Lafarge Tarmac, for £4.88bn.

Holcim’s subsidiaries include UK materials supplier Aggregate Industries.

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