Lafarge has shortlisted five companies for the sale of its India assets, which comprise cement plants with a total annual capacity of 11 million tonnes per annum.

According to sources, Mexico’s CEMEX, China’s Anhui Conch Cement, JSW Cement, Piramal Enterprises and the Nirma Group are shortlisted bidders by the company. They are expected to make offers by the end of July.

Of these, CEMEX and Anhui are overseas cement players that do not have a presence in India so far while Piramal and Nirma currently do not have a presence in the cement sector but are keen to enter it.

Lafarge India’s plants are located in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Sources said that the initial round of bids saw participation from a number of financial and strategic players including the Blackstone Group, Irish cement maker CRH Group,Goldman Sachs Group Canada Pension Plan Investments Board and RAMCO group.

Industry sources said that CEMEX, globally the third largest cement manufacturer, is keen enter the country and is therefore looking at this opportunity as an apt one. It was in talks to acquire a cement plant in Nagpur till recently but the deal did not materialise as the plant in question did not have captive limestone reserves.

If the deal is bagged by China’s Conch Cement, it will mark the entry of a Chinese cement firm in the country. The Nirma Group has also been grappling with regulatory issues for its proposed greenfield cement plant in Gujarat. For Piramal Group also the deal would mark its entry into the cement sector.

The cement sector has seen a wave of consolidation over the past year as weaker companies sold assets to pare debt.

On 31 March, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd sold 21.2 million tonnes in cement capacity to UltraTech Cement Ltd for Rs.15,900 crore. On 5 February, Birla Corp. Ltd agreed to buy 5.5 million tonnes in cement assets from Reliance Infrastructure Ltd for Rs.4,800 crore.