O-I prepares expansion in Latin America

Running an operation that should register net turnover of USD 1 billion in 2007 with activities in five Latin American countries is the new task of mechanical engineer and business manager Jos Antnio …

Running an operation that should register net turnover of USD 1 billion in 2007 with activities in five Latin American countries is the new task of mechanical engineer and business manager Jos Antnio Ramos Lorente, president of the Latin American division of glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois (O-I). Among the challenges is the projected 50% sales increase in the region by 2010 he said during his first interview about the job since taking up the post in October 2006. However, Mr. Lorente said that organic growth will not be enough to achieve the company“s goal of USD 1.5 billion. He said that his strategy includes acquisitions and building units in countries where O-I is still not functioning fully. “We operate in five countries, but we want to expand our success to the remaining 13”. He named Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica as priorities for the company. At present, aside from Brazil, the company has operations in Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. He stressed the importance of Brazil, where the company has a 45% market share and will sell approximately USD 300 million in 2007, and of Venezuela, with 75% and great prospects. Venezuela hosts O-I“s biggest client in Latin America, Polar beer company, which accounts for 15% of the company“s sales in the region. Lorente lived in Venezuela for six years (from 1990 to 1996), during which he occupied the O-I sales and marketing vice presidency. According to him, Venezuela has the highest per capita consumption of beer in the region, with almost 90 liters per person per year. In Brazil, for example, the average is 50 liters. “I have more restrictions about investing in Brazil than in Venezuela, where I have a market”, he said.