As a result of the deal, 65 per cent of Lafarge’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) are expected to be generated in emerging markets by 2010.

Lafarge’s Ebitda in emerging markets in 2007 is estimated at 45 per cent.

The deal will give Lafarge a firm foothold in the Middle East and North Africa.

Orascom’s cement capacity is expected to be 35 million tonnes in 2008, and is expected to increase to 45 million tonnes in 2010.

As part of the deal, Nassef Sawiris, majority shareholder of Orascom Cement’s parent company, will buy 22.5 million new Lafarge shares at a price of 2.8bn euros ($4bn), equivalent to €125 ($184) a share.

“This acquisition of a leading Egyptian group is a decisive opportunity to accelerate our profitable growth strategy in cement in emerging markets. We will create a powerful regional centre in Egypt,” says Bruno Lafont, chairman and chief executive officer of Larfarge.