Global cement manufacturing businesses Lafarge and Holcim have announced their intentions to merge, creating a global business with combined sales amounting to EUR 32bn (£26.4bn).

The respective Boards of Directors of Lafarge SA, and Swiss company Holcim, have unanimously approved the merger, which has been fully supported by the core shareholders of both businesses.

The new global company that will be created - LafargeHolcim - will then be in a strong position to increase its customer offer through innovation, research and development and a combined portfolio of products across the cement, concrete and aggregate industries.

LafargeHolcim would have production sites located in 90 countries across all continents, with a balanced and diversified product portfolio. No single country will account for more than 10% of the business' combined revenues. The business will be domiciled in Switzerland.

Bruno Lafont, chairman and CEO of Lafarge, said: "I am very proud to propose today this new chapter in Lafarge’s long industrial history which is the fruit of the commitment of our people over the years. By combining Holcim’s experienced teams, complementary geographies and innovative expertise with ours, we propose to set up the most advanced group in the construction industry, for the benefit of our clients, our employees and our shareholders. I am confident that this merger of equals provides a unique opportunity to rapidly create the most advanced platform in our industry with outstanding synergies."

The merger is expected to be completed in early 2015.