Saint-Gobain seeks acquisitions of EUR 400 – 500 million in 2003

The chief executive of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA (F.STG) Jean-Louis Beffa said 27 January 2003 that the company would seek bolt-on acquisitions for its building materials distribution business and …

The chief executive of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA (F.STG) Jean-Louis Beffa said 27 January 2003 that the company would seek bolt-on acquisitions for its building materials distribution business and for high performance materials of between EUR 400 million and EUR 500 million in 2003. But speaking at press conference in London, Beffa said most of the acquisitions would be of small, unlisted companies which add value to existing businesses. He denied any interest in acquiring troubled U.K. concrete maker RMC Group Plc, as its businesses are “not related” to the areas in which Saint-Gobain is involved. These are mainly flat glass, high performance and building materials and in distribution.Beffa didn“t go into details on how the company would pay for acquisisitions, but week commencing 20 January 2003 the company reported free cash flow of EUR 1.26 billion for 2002 compared with EUR 1.34 billion a year earlier. However, Chief Financial Officer Philippe Crouzet said the company “will probably use cash flow to reduce debt” during 2003. At 30 December 2002, Saint-Gobain“s net debt was EUR 7 billion, compared with EUR 7.8 billion a year earlier. Saint-Gobain currently has 2,600 distribution outlets and acquires new ones at a rate of about 100 per year, Beffa said. In 2002 Saint-Gobain made a net profit excluding capital gains of EUR 1.05 billion on revenue of EUR 30.27 billion.