Glassmaker Saint-Gobain aims to reduce dependence on Europe

French glassmaking group Saint-Gobain said Wednesday that it intends to reduce its dependence in western Europe by making investments in Asia and the United States.

The company which makes glass for home, auto and packaging makes two-thirds of its sales in Europe, now plans to focus more attention on countries "offering the potential for higher growth" said chief executive Pierre-Andre de Chalendar.

At a meeting with investors, he said the company had learned the lessons of the crisis in Europe, which has seen sales drop 17 percent from 2007.

The group aims to focus investments outside of western Europe so that two-thirds of its innovative materials and construction products assets would be located there.

It foresees 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in small and mid-size acquisitions through 2018 to help it reach that goal.

The group which also makes construction products and owns building materials distributors, said it aims to make an 800 million euros in additional cost savings in 2014 and 2015, on top of the 3.2 billion euros in savings made since 2008.

Saint-Gobain confirmed it plans to sell its glass packaging unit Verallia. It has agreed to sell Veralia's North American operations for $1.7 billion (1.3 billion euros) and said it expects US regulatory approval for the deal by the end or this year or in early 2014.

The group which employs nearly 193,000 people worldwide posted an operating profit of 2.9 billion euros last year on sales of 43.2 billion euros.

Most Popular in Business