SAO PAULO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian engineering conglomerate Camargo Correa SA, which this year disposed of electricity and consumer goods assets, is in talks to sell a minority stake in Loma Negra Cia Industrial SA, Argentina’s No. 1 cement producer, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
According to the person, who requested anonymity since the talks are private, Camargo Correa is in negotiations with a number of unspecified potential bidders, most of which are investment firms with holdings in industrial companies whose focus is not solely on cement.
Camargo Correa’s interests in cement are all managed by a São Paulo-based investment holding company known as InterCement. The billionaire family that controls Camargo Correa has discussed selling part of InterCement or partially disposing of assets such as Loma Negra for at least two years, the person said.
Local financial blog Brazil Journal reported on Thursday that the Loma Negra deal would involve the sale of a 40-percent stake.
Press representatives for Camargo Correa did not have an immediate comment.
Intentions to dispose of another business come as Camargo Correa rapidly recovers from the impact of a corruption probe at state firms that were key clients of the conglomerate’s engineering unit.
More investment is slowly flocking to Argentina as President Mauricio Macri tries to implement more business-friendly policies.
In the case of Camargo Correa, the sales of fashion brand Alpargatas SA in December and a controlling stake in power holding company CPFL Energia SA in June were aimed to “create shareholder value,” and not to raise cash to pay fines linked to a leniency accord related to the probe, the person said.
The conglomerate raised about $2.5 billion from the two deals.
The grandchildren of founder Sebastião Camargo occupy most of the conglomerate’s board seats and are working to transform Camargo Correa into an investment holding company.
InterCement, Brazil’s No. 2 cement maker, is a leading producer of the construction material in Portugal, Mozambique and Cabo Verde.
Camargo Correa purchased Loma Negra in 2005 for $1 billion, the first of a series of acquisitions to strengthen the foothold of InterCement in emerging markets. Loma Negra was founded in 1926 by Argentine businessman Alfredo Fortabat.
Two people familiar with Camargo Correa’s strategy told Reuters in August that the conglomerate tried to sell a minority stake in InterCement a couple of years ago and even considered a listing of the company outside Brasil.
However, the process failed because interested parties - either for an acquisition or an offering - were unwilling to meet the group’s valuation.
At the time, Camargo Correa hired the investment-banking units of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Citigroup Inc as financial advisors to the plan, the people said. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Nick Zieminski)