Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA cleared a major hurdle toward their planned $50 billion merger after antitrust authorities in Europe said the deal could go ahead, subject to conditions.

“Competition is important also in cement – acquisition of Lafarge by Holcim is subject to conditions. The merger can proceed. Good for growth,” the European Union’s top competition regulator Margrethe Vestager tweeted.

Following constructive discussions with the European Commission in the pre-notification period and throughout its Phase I investigation, Holcim and Lafarge have now finalized the list of assets for divestment in Europe, which with the exception of a very slight change in France essentially corresponds to the list presented in October.

“We are very pleased with the positive decision of the European Commission. It also reflects the quality of the preparatory work performed by both teams so far in creating the most advanced company in our industry. With this decision, we remain firmly on track for a closing in the first half of 2015,” commented Professor Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, designated chairman of the board of directors and Bruno Lafont, designated CEO of the future combined company.

Lafarge and Holcim continue to actively pursue negotiations for the sale of these assets with potential buyers, who will have to be pre-approved by the European Commission. Holcim Chief Financial Officer Thomas Aebischer has said about 60 parties – a mixture of buyout firms and building-materials companies – had submitted bids for all or some of the assets. The divestments remain subject to the completion of the merger, including a successful public exchange offering and approval by Holcim's shareholders in the second quarter of 2015.

In the remaining jurisdictions where regulatory clearance is still pending, both companies will continue to cooperate with the relevant authorities to satisfy regulatory requirements.

The closing of the planned merger is expected in the first half of 2015, with the aim of creating the most balanced and diversified portfolio in the industry, operating in 90 countries and creating superior value for its stakeholders and customers.

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