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Published: Friday, 3/19/2010

O-I to produce glass in Argentina

FROM BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

Owens-Illinois Inc. yesterday revealed it will produce glass in Argentina for the first time as part of a renewed thrust into emerging markets across the globe.

Chief Executive Al Stroucken, speaking to investors in New York, said the Perrysburg firm will use its newly acquired majority stake in a 230-employee plant in Rosario, Argentina, owned by Cristalerias Rosario as a "launching pad to tap into the attractive Argentine market and expand in Latin America."

Besides Argentina, plans call for O-I, which is the world's largest producer of glass bottles and jars, to acquire 15 to 20 plants in China in coming years.

Plans call for acquiring two to four plants per year, and each acquisition is estimated at $25 million to $50 million, Mr. Stroucken told investors.

The planned acquisitions are part of a strategy to boost revenue to $9 billion by 2012, said Mr. Stroucken, a native of The Netherlands. O-I, with $7 billion in sales now, operates 78 plants worldwide. Seventy percent of revenue comes from sales outside North America, company officials said.

Sales have begun to recover in most regions and industries served by the company except for beer production in North America, he added.

Argentina is attractive to O-I because the nation is Latin America's third-largest consumer of glass bottles behind Mexico and Brazil. Many of the bottles are used by wineries.

In the past, the company has not adequately fought back against loss of business to other packaging materials such as plastic and aluminum, Mr. Stroucken said.

"Let me say this loudly and clearly: Those days are over." He promised that O-I will put more money into marketing to counteract the move away from glass.



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