(Adds background on the deal)
WASHINGTON, April 10 The European packaging
company Ardagh Group S.A. won U.S. antitrust approval to buy
Saint-Gobain Containers Inc after agreeing to sell six of its
nine glass container manufacturing plants in the United States,
the Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday.
The commission, which investigated the deal to determine if
it was legal under antitrust law, sued in July to stop Ardagh's
proposed $1.7 billion purchase of Saint-Gobain's
U.S. glass container business.
The agency had particularly focused on the prospect that the
original deal could have led to higher prices for beer and
The companies dominate the $5 billion U.S. market for glass
containers. The FTC had argued that the deal would combine the
second-largest U.S. glass container maker, the Saint Gobain
unit, with the third-largest, Ardagh.
The result, the FTC said, was that newly combined Ardagh and
No. 2, Owens-Illinois Inc, would make more than 75
percent of the beer and hard liquor bottles used in the United
As part of its deal to settle the litigation, Ardagh will
sell six of the nine plants that it acquired when it purchased
Anchor Glass Container Corp in 2012.
The sales must be completed within six months to a buyer
approved by the FTC.
"The proposed order creates a strong, independent third
competitor that fully replaces the competition - in both the
beer and spirits glass container markets - that would have been
lost had the merger proceeded," Deborah Feinstein, director of
the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.
Saint-Gobain, which was founded in France in 1665 to produce
mirrors for the royal court at Versailles, struck the deal in
January to sell its North American glass container operation to
Ardagh. It plans to exit the low-margin business to focus on
higher-margin building materials.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bill Trott)