Mexico's Vitro looks to build construction sales

Mexican glassmaker Vitro will work in 2003 to bolster sales to the construction industry and complete a financial restructuring, a top official said.

Vitro will concentrate on its strategic flat glass division, which represents nearly 55 percent of the company's revenues, and where increased demand is expected as a result of a pickup in spending on social housing."Basically we'll attack the construction industry. Flat glass will remain our main revenue generator," Juan Orozco, Vitro's vice president of corporate finance, said in a recent telephone interview.

Vitro, which also manufactures flat glass for the automotive industry and drink containers, has reorganized and sold non-core operations over the past few years.

The company this year will invest $37 million in a glass manufacturing plant in the city of Mexicali in northern Mexico to increase its business in the United States, which accounts for 42 percent of its foreign sales.

Vitro will spend another $104 million on investment this year, Orozco said.

Orozco estimated that Mexico's demand for flat glass would jump as a result of the federal government's move to build more social housing. President Vicente Fox is planning to authorize 300,000 mortgages for low-income workers this year, compared with 275,000 the year before.

Although Vitro is not expecting growth in demand from the U.S. construction industry in 2003, sales to that sector should remain close to $450 million, Orozco said.

New sources of financing and the aggressive debt restructuring carried out over the past two years will help Vitro lower its costs in 2003, he said.

600450 Mexico's Vitro looks to build construction sales

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