Business & Finance

The world's third-largest maker of cement and ready-mix concrete, Cemex SA, agreed to pay $4.1 billion for controlling interest in rival RMC Group. Both are major suppliers for construction projects such as tunnels, bridges, stadiums, airports, and commercial buildings. Cemex is based in Nueva Leon, Mexico; RMC in Surrey, England.

Lazard LLC, the world's largest privately held bank, is on the verge of going public, even though in doing so it would be dwarfed by such Wall Street institutions as Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, published reports said. said partners who own 64 percent of the secretive investment bank will be informed later this week of plans for an initial public offering that could raise an estimated $3 billion. The sale could be held as early as next year, said.

In a deal valued at $2.6 billion, US buyout specialist Apax Partners Inc. and London private equity firm Cinven Ltd. said they'll acquire the directory-publishing business of market research giant VNU. The latter, based in the Dutch city of Haarlem, also publishes Billboard and ADWEEK magazines and owns retail sales tracker ACNielsen and its TV-ratings counterpart, Nielsen Media Research. Apax, whose headquarters are in New York, has had previous experience buying directory publishers and reselling them at a profit.

J.P. Morgan Chase has agreed to buy a majority stake in Highbridge Capital Management of New York, a leading hedge fund, The Wall Street Journal reported. The size of the transaction wasn't disclosed, but sources close to the matter indicate that the fund is valued at more than $1 billion, the Journal said. Hedge funds, which charge higher fees and carry more risk than other investment vehicles, typically attract clients willing to spend more than $1 million each.

In a bid to further tighten the property-trust industry, Multiplex Group offered about $1 billion for Ronin Property Group. Both companies are Australian. Since May, there have been at least eight multibillion-dollar property-trust mergers, five in the US, one in Europe, and two in Australia. Multiplex, also a developer/contractor, is building London's 90,000-seat New Wembley Stadium but wants to reduce its dependence on profit from such projects.

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