CRH's US unit, Oldcastle Materials Group, had bought Mount Hope Rock Products, a new Jersey quarry firm. The deal cost £138 million, plus a deferred consideration of $6 million payable over three years.

Mount Hope is an integrated aggregates, asphalt and paving company with operations in northern New Jersey and New York city. Permitted reserves at its main location, the Mount Hope granite quarry in New Jersey, amount to over 300 million tons.

In the year to March 2001, the company reported sales of $105 million, with adjusted trading profits of $13 million. The acquisition will reinforce CRH's strong position in the US, where more than half its annual turnover is generated.

'This is a very good business because of a substantial increase in US federal spending on highways and we are always looking to expand in regions with good highway programmes,' CRH's Finance General Manager Myles Lee said.

'We have been in the US since 1978 and have always found it a very easy place to do business, and at the moment, because of the federal spending increase, it is exhibiting good growth in the sector,' he added

Last year CRH, which is Ireland's biggest industrial firm, concluded 60 acquisition deals and spent 1.6 billion euros on the buy trial. This included the 425 million euro takeover of the Jura Group in Switzerland.

Post acquisition, Mount Hope will be integrated into CRH's existing Tilcon New York operation, which serves the New York Metropolitan market, southern New York state and New Jersey.

CRH shares were almost 2% in Dublin this afternoon on the acquisition news. They were trading at 18.80 euros, a gain of 30 cents, by 2.45pm.