Imerys SA, a French building- materials company, agreed to buy AmcolInternational Corp. of the U.S. for $1.6 billion including debt to add specialty minerals used in industrial and consumer applications.

Imerys will begin a tender offer for Amcol at $41 a share in cash within the next 10 business days, the companies said in a statement today. The price is 12 percent above yesterday’s closing level on the New York Stock Exchange and 19 percent more than the average price over the last 30 trading days.

The U.S. company, a global leader in bentonite, a clay used in metalworking, construction and drilling, will boost Imerys’ sales in North America, offsetting a slower economy in Europe. The purchase of Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Amcol will add to Imerys earnings from the first full year of integration in 2015, it said today.

“This transaction will mark a very important milestone for Imerys,” Chief Executive Officer Gilles Michel said in the statement. It will allow the company “to strengthen its presence in the U.S., to be more innovative and to enhance its growth profile.”

Imerys rose 1.1 percent to 62.93 euros in Paris trading, giving the company a market value of 4.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion). Amcol yesterday gained 2 percent to $36.72.

Debt funding has been secured for the acquisition, Imerys said. The company said it retains a comfortable margin for maneuver with respect to debt covenants and its investment grade rating.


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Imerys is paying about 10.3 times of Amcol’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization last year, according to the U.S. company.

The transaction was unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies.

“Amcol’s core businesses will benefit significantly from Imerys’ global presence and strong financial position,” Amcol CEO Ryan McKendrick said. “This transaction will combine two complementary companies.”

To counter a slowdown in infrastructure spending in European countries, local building companies have been expanding in faster growing markets and businesses.

Vinci SA, Europe’s biggest builder, last year bought Portuguese airport operator ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal SA for 3.1 billion euros and raised its stake in Aeroports de Paris to 8 percent. It also bought the stake in French toll road Cofiroute it didn’t already own.


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