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Big French builders to raise capital

TWO of France's biggest building materials companies plan to raise capital to shore up finances eroded by slowing construction markets.

Lafarge SA, the world's biggest cement producer, and building-materials supplier Saint-Gobain SA plan to sell 3 billion euros (US$3.8 billion) combined in shares.

Saint-Gobain said that it will offer investors 1.5 billion euros of stock at 14 euros apiece. That's 50 percent less than yesterday's closing price of 27.99 euros.

Lafarge is yet to announce terms but said that its two largest shareholders, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert and NNS Holding, back the plan.

The companies have spent more than US$25 billion combined on acquisitions to expand globally.

Lafarge is Europe's most indebted cement maker after buying Orascom Construction's cement unit for US$15 billion in 2007 to become the Middle East's top supplier.


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