Lafarge ready to sell quarries to get bid OK

Lafarge, the French building giant, is preparing to sell its ready-mix concrete quarries in Norwich and Leicester in order to get its pounds 1.8bn bid for Redland past the UK competition authorities. The move should remove the final obstacle to the takeover.

Earlier this month the European Commission passed the deal back to the UK competition authorities following a surprise request to scrutinise the bid from John Battle, the Industry Minister, following a recommendation from the director general of fair trading.

Mr Battle raised concerns that the deal would give Lafarge a stranglehold over the ready-mix concrete market in the Midlands. The French group already has a large presence in the area, having acquired Ennemix, a local quarry group, last year in its first move into the UK market.

Sources believe that Lafarge has offered to sell the businesses in order to get the green light for its takeover.