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Saint-Gobain outlines phase II expansion plan

L.N. Revathy

Coimbatore , Nov. 22

HAVING achieved 27 per cent market share for its range of products in a span of five years, Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd is hoping to reach the 40-per cent-mark in the next cycle of investment.

The company, according to its Managing Director, Mr B. Santhanam, is confident of achieving this level by virtue of its lead over its competitors in the value-added segment.

The company is currently in the second phase of its expansion programme. "We have invested Rs 700 crore on expansion till date, as against the estimated outlay of Rs 800 crore. The project is nearing completion. Once through, this will be the single largest integrated unit in the country, with a capacity to melt 1,500 tonnes of glass per day," he told Business Line.

The total investment by the French company, Saint-Gobain, in its Indian operations would, with the completion of the second phase, be close to Rs 1,400 crore.

This modern float glass plant at Sriperumpudur near Chennai had, at inception in July 2000, the capacity to produce 650 tonnes of float glass every day. (This translates to 47 million square metres of 2 mm thick glass per annum.)

It has since then widened its product range to include clear , tinted and pyrolitic reflective glass, eco-friendly mirrors by replacing lead and copper and is now looking at solar-controlled glass as well.

Commenting on the expansion, Mr Santhanam said this enhanced capacity would add another 40 per cent to the existing capacity in the country. "This will no doubt create an excess supply, but only for a short period, may be up to 2008. The demand is expected to grow not only in the construction space, but in the automotive segment as well. The prospects could be tough," he added.

The demand growth, according to him was for the value-added glass products.

He expects the industry to go through testing times in 2007-08 because of the steep rise in energy costs. "It is a fuel-intensive industry and we do not see any alternative to gas or oil," he said.

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