Asahi Glass Co. (AGC) recently announced that its consolidated subsidiary AGC Glass Europe (AGEU) has signed a letter of intent with Obeikan Glass Co., a Saudi Arabian glass manufacturer, to establish a solar control glass coating joint venture. The processing line for temperable solar control glass coatings will be built in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, where Obeikan Glass already operates what is reportedly the largest float glass plant in the Gulf region. Operations are scheduled to start in early 2016. Obeikan Glass is owned by Saudi conglomerates Obeikan Investment Group and Saudi Advanced Industries Co.
In recent years, the architectural glass market in the Middle East has grown at an annual rate of about 4%. In particular, demand is increasing for solar control glass that can block sunlight and significantly improve the energy-saving performance of buildings, and its growth rate is estimated to exceed the market growth rate. As a result, demand for high-performance architectural glass is projected to rise continuously in the region.
“Having a float glass plant with a glass coating plant downstream from it on the same site will help us to keep tight control of quality, to optimize the production and logistics costs, and to achieve higher margins,” said Abdallah Obeikan, CEO of Obeikan Investment Group.
AGEU, which specializes in coating technologies for high-performance glass, and Obeikan Glass, which specializes in the glass business in the region, are reportedly expected to generate synergies that can be applied to the high-performance architectural glass business in the Middle East. “This joint venture not only assists in the selective roll-out of our own technology, already enriched through our recent alliance with the German company Interpane, it also helps to extend the distribution of our range of coated products developed through advanced research,” said Jean-François Heris, CEO of AGEU.