S.A's biggest cement maker PPC in merger talks

PUBLISHED: Mon, 13 Feb 2017 08:07:16 GMT

JOHANNESBURG Feb 13 (Reuters) – South Africa’s biggest cement maker PPC Ltd is in merger talks with its nearest rival Afrisam Group, it said on Monday, seeking to overcome valuation squabbles that sunk previous tie-up efforts.

Majority owned by pension fund, the Public Investment Corporation, Afrisam first proposed merger in 2014, swooping in at a time when PPC’s share price had been under pressure due to infighting between its board and former chief executive.

Shares in PPC are however up nearly a third so far this year, recovering from a hammering suffered in the middle of 2016 after a loss of investment grade status forced it to a deeply discounted rights offer. PPC shares lost 44 percent in 2015, and nearly 12.5 percent in 2014.

The cement maker, which is valued at about 11 billion rand ($823 million), did not give details on the value of the proposed merger.

“The parties have independently concluded that current market circumstances warrant entering into formal discussions to consider the proposed merger,” PPC said in a statement.

The company, along with South African builders, is struggling to grow revenue and sales, partly due to a slow roll-out of the government’s infrastructure investment package over the next three years.

In response, PPC has borrowed heavily to build factories in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo to boost sales overseas. ($1 = 13.3681 rand) (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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