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Florida Rock picks up plants in bay area

Florida Rock Industries Inc., a leading cement and concrete supplier, will acquire a Tampa plant as part of its $122-million purchase of LaFarge Florida Inc., a unit of LaFarge North America.

LaFarge Florida consists primarily of two cement grinding and import plants, one in Tampa and the other in Port Manatee. The two plants produced 1.2-million tons of cement products last year, generating $89-million in net sales.

LaFarge officials said that while its Florida subsidiary was profitable, it wasn't a great strategic fit for the French company's portfolio as it sheds assets to reduce debts. The Port Manatee plant imports cement material and grinds it while the Tampa plant imports cement and sometimes reprocesses it into specialty products. Its cement is sold mostly to Florida concrete producers and masonry contractors.

There are no plans to change operations at the plant and no jobs will be eliminated or created, said John D. Milton Jr., chief financial officer for Florida Rock. Milton said the acquisitions, which are expected to be completed by Sept. 30, will have little impact on the industry as a whole, but the newly added plants will be a good complement to the company's existing operations.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to acquire them and expand our business presence in the greater Tampa Bay area," Milton said.

Florida Rock, based in Jacksonville, employs more than 100 people in the Tampa Bay area.

Florida Rock reported net income of $16.3-million for the quarter ended March 31, an increase of 32 percent over the same quarter a year earlier. Its stock closed Thursday at $43.02, up $1.31. LaFarge North America closed at $31.33, down 12 cents.

_ Benita Newton can be reached at bnewtonsptimes.com or (727) 893-8318.

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