* Two largest cement makers seek regulatory approval for tie-up
* France, Germany, Britain, Eastern Europe to see divestments
* Deal still on track for H1 2015 closing (Adds call details)
By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS, July 7 (Reuters) - Cement makers Lafarge and Holcim on Monday proposed a series of asset sales across Europe, including all of Holcim’s French activities and Lafarge’s German and Romanian ones, as they seek approval from regulators for their merger.
The two companies need to shed around 5 billion euros ($6.81 billion) in assets to help persuade competition regulators to back the proposed merger which was unveiled in April and would create the world’s biggest cement maker with $44 billion in annual sales.
The companies said they would seek buyers for operations in Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Britain, Canada, the Philippines, Mauritius and Brazil, among others. The proposed divestments represent about 10 percent of Holcim and Lafarge’s global sales.
Holcim Chief Executive Bernard Fontana said the companies had already received about 50 expressions of interest from potential buyers and would soon begin negotiations.
Competition regulators in some 15 countries, as well as the European Commission, are expected to take a hard look at the Holcim-Lafarge deal, which brings together the two biggest cement makers globally.
Europe’s top competition regulator, Joaquin Almunia, has said the merger would be subject to an in-depth review, known as a phase 2 examination, given the deal’s size.
“Both companies will continue to consider whether (additional) divestments would be necessary where there might be overlaps depending on regulatory requirements,” Holcim and Lafarge said in a statement on Monday.
Fontana added that the companies planned to officially apply for approval from EU competition regulators this summer. The tie-up is expected to close in the first half of 2015.
$1 = 0.7345 euros Reporting by Leila Abboud; editing by Matt Driskill and Jason Neely