CRH ready to add to $6.5 billion binge on Lafarge and Holcim assets: Irish building materials group CRH is still on the lookout for more acquisitions even as it prepares to integrate the $6.5 billion in assets it has acquired from Lafarge and Holcim.
CRH suffers as cracks appear in Lafarge-Holcim mega merger: Fears that Holcim’s €41 billion blockbuster cement merger deal with Lafarge is close to collapse has thrown into doubt CRH’s ambitions to become one of the world’s biggest building material companies.
Time to dust off the shamrocks, Guinness hats and other tired clichés of Irish culture. Time also to admire the re-emergence of another Irish tradition — that of the fast-growing economy. Barely a week goes by without encouraging data — strong figures on mortgage arrears, for example, or an upgrade to the outlook for the country’s banks from Moody’s. The Irish stock market’s ISEQ index, up a quarter in six months, has beaten Eurozone peers. The good news is being driven by strong fundamentals. Exports rose 13% last year, helping to drive a fall in unemployment. That in turn helped consumer confidence and the housing market. Ireland’s banks are feeling the benefit. Bank of Ireland swung back to profit last year on the back of a two-thirds drop in the impairment charge. So there are reasons for short-term caution. The medium term, too, holds possible challenges. What if the Irish economy — driven by low Eurozone interest rates — expands too fast? What if the U.K. — a leading trading partner — leaves the EU? The ISEQ, at 20 times forecast earnings, is taking such uncertainties in its stride. And while the good news keeps coming it can afford to: the recovery looks well-founded. But remember what happened last time it looked like Ireland was defying gravity.
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