AP Interview: PPG Looks To Asia

PPG Industries Inc. hopes to expand further in Asia in the coming years by acquiring small and midsize paint and industrial-coating manufacturers, the company's top executive said Thursday.

Charles E. Bunch, PPG's chairman and chief executive, said the maker of paint, coatings, glass and chemicals would consider growing in Asia after completing its acquisition and integration of SigmaKalon Group, Europe's second-largest coatings maker.

In October, PPG said it was buying the Netherlands-based SigmaKalon from private equity group Bain Capital LLC for $3.1 billion. The deal, slated to close in January, will be the 124-year-old company's biggest to date and will significantly extend its global reach.

"I think the big focus for our company ... will be trying to get better positioned in Asia, grow with those economies and also participate in the consolidation (of the industry)," Bunch said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"There are smaller to midsize companies in Asia that we would hope to be able to look at in the coming years," he said. "So I think you're going to see our focus shift a little more, in terms of our (merger and acquisition) strategy, to Asia."

PPG has been on a buying spree in recent years, a trend Bunch attributed to the company's ongoing attempts to transform itself from a diversified business to one focused on coatings and specialty products, such as optical materials.

The Pittsburgh-based company expects to see an additional $750 million in sales from its 2006 acquisitions this year, he said.

By DANIEL LOVERING

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