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PPG still intends to sell auto glass unit, CEO says

PPG Industries Inc. still intends to sell its automotive glass business this year, which includes its plant in Creighton, CEO Charles E. Bunch said today the company's annual meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

As PPG prepares to sell the automotive glass businesses, it will restructure the segment by reducing labor and overall administrative costs, Bunch said.

The company reached an agreement last year to sell the business to Platinum Equity of Beverly Hills, Calif., for about $500 million, but the turnaround investment firm withdrew from the sale in December. Platinum Equity sued PPG in New York Supreme Court in January, claiming that PPG misrepresented the segment's financial health by overstating profit and sales projections for 2008.

PPG's divestiture plans are part of the company's goal to strengthen its business portfolio by focusing on coatings and higher-growth specialty businesses, Bunch said.

PPG earlier today said its first quarter earnings fell 48 percent to $100 million, or 61 cents a share, compared to the first quarter 2007 net income of $194 million, or $1.17 a share. PPG's first quarter sales of $3.7 billion, up from $2.6 billion in the first quarter 2007, were a first-quarter sales record for the company.

PPG, the world's second largest coatings maker, "achieved this growth due, in part, to our prior investments in coatings, optical products and emerging regions, which have strengthened our overall portfolio," Bunch said. Growth came despite a slowdown in the overall U.S. economy, Bunch said.

The company's coatings sales jumped 30 percent, or $259 million, because of PPG's recent acquisition of Dutch coatings company SigmaKalon and Barloworld in Australia.

The earnings for the quarter included $13 million from its automotive glass business, which PPG reported as discontinued operations, compared to $18 million for that business in the first quarter 2007.

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