Ceramic Industry News

NSG Offers Restructuring Update (posted 4/10/09)

April 10, 2009
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 Since January 2009, a range of actions has been taken to reduce capacity and output around the Group to match customer requirements.

The NSG Group recently issued an update on its restructuring program progress and current trading conditions in its global markets. Good progress has been made in implementing the initiatives announced in January 2009, building on action already taken by management in response to the sudden and rapid changes in the global economic environment. The total investment in the restructuring program was announced as 22 billion yen. The overall objective of the program is to protect the business in the short term and to reestablish profit growth from fiscal year 2011 onward.

Since January 2009, a range of actions has been taken to reduce capacity and output around the Group to match customer  requirements. In Automotive, production capacity has been reduced in Europe and North America. In addition to the announced closure of the Group's plant in Eisenerz, Austria, and a reduction of laminating capacity in Ylöjärvi, Finland, action has been taken to close laminating operations at Kings Norton, UK, and a value-added plant in Braunschweig, Germany, with reductions in sidelight production in Sagunto, Spain.

Other reductions have been made at Orja, Sweden, and San Salvo, Italy. Discussions are currently underway on overhead reductions in Automotive Corporate functions in the UK. In North America, reductions in capacity are being made at Collingwood, Canada. Other initiatives designed to align the Group's production capacity to demand have also been implemented in South America, Japan and Asia. In China, these include a reduction in laminating capacity at Tianjin and capacity reductions in Changchun and Guilin. Production will be suspended indefinitely at the Group's dedicated Automotive float plant at Lahti in Finland.

In Building Products, the Group has made capacity and overhead reductions in Lathrop, USA and Llavallol, Argentina and closed its White Goods business in São Paulo, Brazil. In the UK, the rolled glass processing site at Doncaster has been shut. Three downstream sites have been closed in the UK, with shift reductions across others, and the Bjerka, Norway, site has closed. Discussions are currently underway on overhead reductions in the Building Products Technology and Engineering functions in the UK.

The Group has also taken action to reduce its float glass capacity. This has involved taking out capacity equivalent to two float lines in Europe and a 15% reduction of float capacity elsewhere in the Group. Production at the VGI float line at My Xuan in Vietnam has been suspended. A float line in the UK remains on extended shutdown following scheduled repairs.

In Specialty Glass, the overall headcount has been reduced by more than 1400 people, primarily in China and the Philippines. The Group has introduced the “stand by at home” system at its Sagamihara and Yokkaichi plants in Japan and expects it to be extended to other plants in the near future.

Under the current restructuring program, the aim is to reduce overall headcount in the Group by approximately 5800 people by March 2010, representing a reduction of around 15% in the total global headcount. 3000 of these employees had already left the NSG Group by March 31, 2009.

Since the Group’s third quarter earnings announcement in February 2009, it has become clear that its forecast of challenging market conditions in Automotive and Speciality Glass are proving to be correct, but that Building Products markets, particularly in Europe, have deteriorated further. As a consequence, the NSG Group will be taking steps to extend its restructuring program beyond that announced in January 2009. This will result in a further restructuring charge (likely to be in the region of JPY 3 billion) in the current financial year, FY2010, ending March 31, 2010.

Automotive markets, particularly in the developed markets of North America, Europe and Japan, have demand levels for new vehicles at around 35% below the prior year, although some individual government initiatives are beginning to have a positive effect. This is not expected to improve until the second half of fiscal year 2010, at the earliest. Automotive Replacement Glass markets continue to hold up reasonably well.

All of the Group's major Building Products markets remain depressed and have continued to decline in the last three months. Current market demand levels in Building Products' markets are 25% below last year in most markets. European price levels for commodity glass continued to erode through February and March and are now 40% below the levels of 12 months ago. Recovery is not expected until the second half of fiscal year 2010, at the earliest.

The Group's Specialty Glass business continues to be adversely affected by the downturn in demand for displays, office equipment and, in the glass cord sector, by reduced automotive build.

Additional details are available at www.nsggroup.net.

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