There's something refreshing about a traditional takeover effort these days, even when it includes a large amount of foreign intrigue. With nary a private equity firm in sight, Mexican cement manufacturing behemoth Cemex
After gaining their approval, Cemex Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Zambrano told the company's shareholders that he was sure their loyalty would be repaid when the Rinker acquisition is completed. Cemex has set a Dec. 27 deadline for its offer, although that date could be extended.
The $12 billion offer, which had been rejected the previous week by Rinker (which found it insufficient by as much as 40%), could ultimately result in Cemex becoming the world's largest ready-mix concrete and aggregates company, although it still would remain in third place among cement manufacturers. During the past two decades, Cemex has used 16 major acquisitions to become a major worldwide player in cement and related products, from its prior position as simply the largest player in Mexico. Among its most noteworthy purchases was the 2001 acquisition of Houston-based Southdown, which then was the largest producer in the United States.
U.S. cement and building materials production is important in the Cemex-Rinker contest, because Rinker generates in excess of 80% of its revenues here. An acquisition of Rinker would, however, also allow Cemex to move into Australia, and Rinker's four cement plants in China would provide Cemex with a beachhead in that country.
Since the 1980s, the manufacture of cement has actually become a rapidly changing phenomenon in the United States, even though the nature of the product has not been altered materially for a century. The majority of domestic production occurs in plants now owned by overseas producers, who have been gathering up U.S. assets for the better part of two decades. Even with all those plants producing at capacity, however, about a quarter of the nation's cement demand must be served through overseas imports. That demand has been held aloft for about 20 years, in part by a series of major federal highway bills.
As one who once followed Southdown, four-plant cement manufacturer Eagle Materials
For further rock-solid Foolishness:
Cemex is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. For more stocks from the top of Tom and David Gardner's list, enjoy a free trial.
Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your comments or questions.