Harleyville cement plant part of $760 million sale

The buyer of the Lafarge cement plant site off U.S. Interstate 26 is Colombia-based Cementos Argos CCB.CN.

The French owner of large cement plant in Dorchester County has sold the Harleyville business to a South American company.

The buyer of the Lafarge site off U.S. Interstate 26 is Colombia-based Cementos Argos CCB.CN.

The plant was among several Southeast U.S. businesses that Lafarge sold for $760 million under an effort to reduce its debt. The deal was announced Thursday.

Lafarge said it also is shedding a cement plant in Alabama, a cement grinding station in Atlanta and its ready-mix concrete units in the Southeast, among other assets.

The divested businesses generated about $240 million in revenue last year, and represented about 10 of the company's North American sales. The deal requires approval from antitrust authorities, Lafarge said.

'This transaction creates value for our shareholders while maintaining a strong network of operations for future growth in North America,' said Bruno Lafont, chairman and chief executive officer.

Lafont told Reuters that the economy has been improving, which made the prospects of a deal more attractive.

'The environment today is more favorable for us to be able to sell at the best conditions,' he told the news service. 'That wasn't the case until now, and in particular in 2010.'

The Harleyville plant was opened in 1974 as Gifford-Hill Cement and was later acquired by Blue Circle Cement. Lafarge became the owner in 2001 after buying Blue Circle for about $3 billion.

Cementos Argos' website shows that the company operates 15 ready-mix concrete businesses in South Carolina, including one each in Charleston and Summerville.

For more details, see Saturday's editions of The Post and Courier.