Goldman and TPG considering a joint stake in HeidelbergCement

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Goldman Sachs Group Inc, in a probable joint venture with US private equity firm TPG, is considering making an investment in HeidelbergCement - an asset of Adolf Merckle, the late German billionaire. The paper, citing people familiar with the matter, said that initially it will be a minority stake, which may later lead to the sale of a majority holding.

Following the newspaper reports, the shares in HeidelbergCement rose sharply to 31.27 euros - the 8.7 percent rise marking their biggest jump since December 22.

Merckle committed suicide on January 5, after a holding company, which was owned by his family, cumulated nearly 5 billion euros, or $6.6 billion, in debt; and an appraisal of his assets was taken by banks, which implied the prospective break up of his business empire.

HeidelbergCement - the fourth-largest cement maker in the world, controlled by the Merckle family - has been forced to put up financial assets as collateral for bank loans that it is getting as a part of help in its refinancing.

The company said on January 13 that it plans to sell non-strategic assets to trim down borrowings it brought upon itself after its 7.85 billion-pound -$11.7 billion - buyout of UK's Hanson Plc in 2007.

According to Vivien Kremer, a spokeswoman for the family's VEM Vermoegensverwaltung GmbH investment company, the assets of Merckle are still under evaluation and the future of HeidelbergCement is open.

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