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Mexico's Cemex, biggest cement supplier in world, says CEO Lorenzo Zambrano died in Spain

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MEXICO CITY - Lorenzo Zambrano, who transformed Cemex SA de Mexico from a regional cement producer into a global player, died Tuesday in Spain, the company said.

Zambrano, 70, died in Madrid of natural causes, the company said without giving other details.

Trained as an engineer, Zambrano was considered one of the most important businessmen in Mexico. He became Cemex's chief executive officer in 1985. A decade later he added the title of chairman of the board of directors.

With Zambrano at the helm, the Monterrey-based company expanded beyond Mexico and now has operations in 50 countries on five continents.

Cemex has been the world's largest supplier of cement, and possibly the biggest building materials supplier, since 2007, when it won a controlling stake in Australia's Rinker Group Ltd.

The company said in a statement that "the operation and administration of the group will continue to develop normally" and that in the coming days the board of directors would meet to decide how to proceed.

"My condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Lorenzo Zambrano, a man of great commitment and love for Mexico," President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a message on his Twitter account.

Pena Nieto noted that Zambrano "made @CEMEX the number one cement producer in the world."

Zambrano studied mechanical engineering at ITESM, a private university in Monterrey, his hometown, and he earned an MBA at Stanford University.

Cemex produces and sells cement, concrete and other construction materials, with about 43,000 employees worldwide. It reported annual revenue of more than $15 billion in 2013.

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