Board of Swiss cement maker Holcim rejects terms of merger with France's Lafarge

BERLIN – A deal to create the world’s largest cement maker was put on hold Monday after the board of Swiss company Holcim said it doesn’t accept the terms of the merger with France’s Lafarge.

Holcim said in a statement its board of directors concluded that the merger couldn’t be pursued “in its present form.” The companies said in April last year that they would combine to form an industry giant with 32 billion euros ($34 billion) in annual revenues through a one-to-one swap of shares in the new company.

On Monday, Holcim proposed renegotiating the exchange ratio and governance issues of what had been envisaged as a merger of equals.

Lafarge said in a separate statement that it was committed to the merger and willing to discuss revising the original proposal for the share swap. But Lafarge said it “will not accept any other modification of the terms of the existing agreements.”

In April, they had agreed to base the new company in Switzerland, to name Holcim board member Wolfgang Reitzle as chairman, and Lafarge’s chairman and chief executive Bruno Lafont as CEO. Seven people from each company would be represented on the board.