Alcan, the Canadian-based beverage packaging provider, has signed a letter of intent to sell its moulded glass operations in the US and China to the US-based Glass Group.
The sale, which includes its facilities in Park Hills, Missouri, Mays Landing, Williamstown and Millville, New Jersey, as well as the company's 46 per cent -owned joint venture in Beijing, China, is expected to close within the next thirty days.
Alcan said that its decision to sell its moulded glass operations was the result of a portfolio review of its packaging businesses in line with its governing objective to maximise value. Alcan will now focus on growing its packaging business where it claimed that profitable opportunities exist in strategic markets.
Alcan's decision to leave the glass container business reflects the hard times the industry has undergone during the last two decades, said Philip Ross, president of US-based Glass Industry Consulting International.
No glass container production facility has been built in the United States since the last one was constructed at Pevely in 1981, Ross said.
In fact, the number of US facilities has fallen to 55, from 129 in 1981, due to closures, he added.
This figure reflects a worldwide decrease in bottle-manufacturing activities as aluminium cans, PET bottles and paper cartons grow in popularity. In Europe the glass bottle manufacturing industry has witnessed similar downsizing and a number of consolidations.
Alcan is a multinational, market-driven company and a global leader in aluminum and specialty packaging with 2001 revenues of $12.6 billion (€12.9bn). With world-class operations in primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum as well as flexible and specialty packaging, Alcan is well positioned to meet and exceed its customers' needs for innovative solutions and service. Alcan employs 48,000 people and has operating facilities in 38 countries.
The Glass Group is presently the largest glass manufacturer in China, Australasia and North America, and is also one of the largest players in the European market.