Asahi Glass expects first ever net loss

Japan's largest glass maker, Asahi Glass Co Ltd, slashed its earnings forecast for 2001/02 on Monday to a loss of nine billion yen - its first-ever net loss for a business year.

It earlier forecast a profit of 10 billion yen for the year through March.Weighing heavily on the company's bottom line is a special loss of 41 billion yen, of which 38 billion yen would go towards restructuring."Amid the difficult business environment, we have decided to undergo restructuring measures in our parts and chemical divisions to fortify our earnings in the future," Asahi Glass said.

The company, which was established in 1950, said it planned to close a plant that makes glass parts for cathode ray tubes by the end of 2003.

Asahi Glass said it had not yet decided what to do with the 450 workers at the plant, which is near Tokyo.

As part of its restructuring, the company said it expected to reduce its workforce by 200 workers, or about 3 percent, mainly through a voluntary retirement programme.

Shares in Asahi closed 0.99 percent higher at 712 yen on Monday, almost 40 percent off its Internet bubble peak, when it was touted by investors for its potential in fibre optics.

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