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CRH rules out involvement in Donald Trump's Mexican wall

By John Mulligan

CRH chief Albert Manifold has insisted that its US businesses won't supply materials for the construction of Donald Trump's planned wall between America and Mexico.

The construction firm, which employs nearly 1,000 people in Northern Ireland at Northstone (NI) , is the biggest building materials supplier in North America, where it generated sales of €14.2bn (£12.2bn) last year -most of it from the United States.

Just over half of those sales - 55% - are connected to infrastructure projects, such as highways.

Albert Manifold, the chief executive of the global building materials giant, said that CRH's geographic spread in the United States is primarily focused on the north-east and midwest.

"We've a broad-based business through the United States - in fact we're present in all 50," he said. "But one area where we do not have any significant presence is in the extreme south of the United States. The materials we supply are local by nature."

He said CRH has "no significant operations anywhere near" areas including southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California - states where the wall would be built.

Mr Manifold pointed out that while CRH has a presence in Texas for instance, it mainly does business in cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.

Last year, CRH sold its 25% stake in Israel's only cement firm, Mashav, ending a focus of significant controversy for the group. CRH's annual general meetings had been targeted by pro-Palestinian activists, who had urged it to sell the holding.

Cement produced by Mashav had been used to build barriers for the security wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian West Bank.

Mr Manifold was speaking after CRH released strong results for 2016, with its revenue rising 15% to €27.1bn (£23.2bn) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 41% to €3.1bn (£2.7bn).

The performance was skewed by the inclusion for the full-year of €6.5bn (£5.3bn) of assets that were acquired in 2015 from Lafarge Holcim.

CRH also bought US firm CR Laurence in 2015.

Northstone (NI) Limited is based in Dunmurry and consists of Farrans - part of CRH since 1978 - Northstone Materials and Cubis, a manufacturer of access chambers and ducting systems.

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