updated 4/24/2006 11:00:06 AM ET 2006-04-24T15:00:06

French building-materials maker Lafarge SA on Monday sweetened its offer to acquire the rest of its North American business, and a special committee of the North American company's board unanimously accepted.

Lafarge raised its offer for Lafarge North America to $85.50 per share from the $82 it offered on April 4 — which had been a 9.3 percent increase on a previous bid. Shares of Lafarge North America rose 61 cents to $85.49 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Lafarge is the world's largest cement producer, and its Herndon, Va.-based North America unit is the largest supplier of diversified construction materials in the United States and Canada.

A special committee of independent Lafarge North America board members has recommended the new offer, Lafarge said. The committee last month rejected Lafarge's original $75 bid as "inadequate and not in the best interests of Lafarge North America shareholders."

Paris-based Lafarge plans to buy the 46.8 percent of its subsidiary that it does not already own. The latest offer puts Lafarge North America's value at $7.5 billion.

Lafarge said the new offer "will create value for Lafarge shareholders, and Lafarge believes that this price will be extremely attractive for Lafarge North America shareholders."

In a statement, Chief Executive Bruno Lafont said with the special committee's recommendation, "we can proceed expeditiously to complete our tender offer and to deliver the benefits of the transaction to shareholders of both companies."

Lafarge also has extended the offer's closing date to May 12 from the original deadline of April 28.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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