Libyan Fund Takes Stake In Austrian Brickmaker

VIENNA (AP) -- Wienerberger AG, the world's largest brick manufacturer, said Monday it has signed an agreement with Libya's state investment authority that will let the North African fund acquire up to 10 percent of its shares.

Wienerberger said the move was part of a capital increase aimed at raising at least euro335.8 million ($489.5 million) by issuing nearly 33.6 million new shares.

It said the Libyan Investment Authority has agreed not to acquire more than 15 percent of the Vienna-based company without the consent of Wienerberger's board.

"LIA is a long-term investor and holds interests in a variety of international industrial enterprises," Wienerberger said in a statement.

Wienerberger CEO Heimo Scheuch said the capital increase is intended to help the company "regain financial flexibility" and better position itself for an anticipated recovery in the still-slumping European and U.S. housing and construction markets.

"We will use the proceeds from the capital increase primarily to repay our debt and strengthen our balance sheet," Scheuch said.

Wienerberger has 236 factories in 26 countries.

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