Glass bottle maker to trim jobs in Europe

Glass bottle maker Owens-Illinois Inc. said it expects to improve profits with its newly acquired European container company by trimming 950 jobs and production overseas.

Owens-Illinois officials said they expect to improve profits by $86 million to $266 million a year when they finish organizing its new European business.The Toledo-based company is the largest manufacturer of glass containers in North America.

Owens-Illinois last summer completed its $1.4 billion purchase of BSN Glasspack, the second-biggest glass container maker in Europe. BSN had sales of about $1.5 billion in 2003.

About 950 jobs of 11,500 in Europe will be cut over the next two years, Owens-Illinois officials told analysts Wednesday. The company did not say where the jobs would be eliminated but said it will cut 15 percent of production at five plants in Germany.

It also will open a new European headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. BSN had its headquarters in Paris.

Steven McCracken, the company's chief executive, said the transition has been smooth.

"We are a lot more alike than we are different," McCracken said.

Owens-Illinois took over 18 BSN plants in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. BSN made mainly bottles for wine, liquor, beer and other beverages.

The purchase made the company Europe's largest manufacturer of glass beer, wine, and liquor bottles.

Owens-Illinois executives said savings from improved efficiency, better margins, reduced shipping costs and centralized purchasing could increase profits by up to $266 million each year starting in 2007.

That is higher than the $72 million the company anticipated last year.

Gil Restrepo, president of Owens-Illinois Europe, said 37 percent of its glass container production in Europe is for beer and 18 percent for wine.

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