Lafarge's highest contribution to civilization may be the skyline. The company, one of the world's largest manufacturers of building materials, became the WORLD'S BIGGEST CEMENT MAKER with its 2001 acquisition of UK-based Blue Circle Industries. Lafarge makes cement (about 50% of sales), aggregates and concrete, roofing (concrete and clay tiles, ceramic chimney systems), and gypsum products (wallboard, plasters, insulation). It has operations in 75 countries worldwide; Western Europe accounts for about 40% of sales, but acquisitions are expanding Lafarge's presence in emerging markets such as Asia. Lafarge owns 53% of Lafarge North America and has launched a bid to buy the remainder.
CEMEX has added some European flavor to its cement. The company, which had already climbed to the #3 spot in the cement world, acquired UK-based cement giant RMC Group in 2005. About 75% of CEMEX's sales come from cement; the company has an annual production capacity of more than 90 million tons. It also makes ready-mix concrete, aggregates, and clinker (an intermediate product used to make portland cement). CEMEX's operations are concentrated in North America and Europe, but it also operates in the Middle East, South America, and the Pacific rim. North America accounted for more than 50% of sales before the RMC acquisition, but now Europe is CEMEX's largest market.
Holcim is one of the world's largest cement makers with an annual production capacity of about 145 million tons. The company (formerly known as "Holderbank" Financière Glaris) boasts facilities in more than 70 countries, including subsidiaries Holcim (US), St. Lawrence Cement, and Holcim Apasco in North America. Although geographically diverse, Holcim sticks to the basics when it comes to products: cement and clinker (70% of sales), concrete, aggregates, admixtures, and lime. The company, which has acquired UK-based Aggregate Industries, also offers engineering, research, trading, consulting, and management services