This week, Cemex S.A.B. de C.V. (CX) started a global public offering of 1,200 million Ordinary Participation Certificates (CPO), directly or in form of American Depositary Shares (ADS). The world’s third-largest cement producer has also given underwriters to offer up to an additional 180 million CPOs, directly or in the form of ADSs, to cover overallotments.

The offering includes 595 million CPOs that will be sold on Cemex’s behalf by three of its subsidiaries. Of the 1,200 million CPOs being offered, 900 million CPOs are expected to be offered in the United States and in other countries outside Mexico. Approximately 300 million CPOs will be offered in a concurrent public offering in Mexico. The deal is subject to market and other conditions. The company is likely to offer the CPOs on Sept. 23.

Cemex plans to use the proceeds to repay debt, which will be crucial in the coming quarters as its huge leverage is a rising concern. Net debt at the end of the second quarter was $18,272 million and is more than 5x the expected EBITDA for 2009. It is all the more urgent for Cemex as it is battling with leading cement makers like France’s Lafarge SA and Switzerland’s Holcim Ltd in a difficult market.

Cemex intends to reduce its net debt by about $3.6 billion in 2009 to reach $14.3 billion at the end of the year in order to restore financial flexibility as soon as possible and meet its financial commitments. The company is indeed making a huge effort to restore its creditworthiness and adapt itself to new and much more difficult market conditions.

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