Germany's HeidelbergCement will acquire Hanson PLC of Great Britain, both companies announced. The deal, priced at U.S. $15.8 billion, would bring an end to one of the last remaining British conglomerates.

Although both parent companies are based overseas, the sale will have a huge impact on the U.S. concrete and construction market. North America accounted for 48% of Hanson's sales in 2006. With its U.S. office in Irving, Texas, Hanson operates 76 ready-mix plants, 92 concrete pipe and precast plants, 26 brick plants, and a variety of quarries, asphalt, and roofing tile facilities in North America.

HeidelbergCement has operated in North America since 1977, when it bought Lehigh Cement Co., based in Allentown, Pa. Lehigh operates 89 ready-mixed plants in the United States, in addition to concrete products, aggregate, and cement facilities.

The Heidelberg-Hanson deal is far from final, however. The London-based Financial Times has reported other companies may start a bidding war. Likely candidates include Lafarge, based in France, and Mexico-based Cemex.

Cemex already has announced it will buy Rinker of Australia. Both companies also have many operations in the United States.

Hanson was the No. 2 producer on last year's TCP 100, THE CONCRETE PRODUCER's annual ranking of largest producers by revenue. Cemex was No. 1, and Rinker Materials, No. 3.