News of the 46p a share offer prompted a 13p surge in the Ennemix price to 48p.
The French group, acting through its UK offshoot Norbrit, is using a 27.7 per cent stake acquired from Ennemix chief executive Vaughan McLeod to launch the bid. Amidst heavy trading in the shares yesterday, Ennemix said Norbrit now holds a 41.8 per cent stake.
The French move comes just over two months after Redland, the roof tiles group, failed in a pounds 6.4m bid for Ennemix. Redland was left looking distinctly sheepish after its unsuccessful attempt on the building minnow. The group launched its offer at 32p a share in February and was unsuccessful even after raising its terms to 35p. Its bid had been part of a strategy to use the pounds 160m proceeds of the sale of its brick business to make small bolt-on quarry acquisitions.
The high price paid for Ennemix, which in March reported a pre-tax loss of pounds 585,000, reflects the hefty concentration of the UK quarrying industry. Analysts estimate that the six largest operators control over four-fifths of the aggregates market.
The attitude of Redland, which still holds 41 per cent of Ennemix, will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the latest bid. It said last night that it had not sold any shares to Lafarge and was considering its position. In May, it used its stake to block key resolutions which the smaller company was attempting to push through at its annual general meeting. The dispute is now understood to have been resolved amicably.Reuse content