July 26, 2018 / 4:05 PM / 23 days ago

French group St Gobain to step up sales and acquisitions as H1 profits rise

PARIS, July 26 (Reuters) - French construction materials group St Gobain said it would accelerate its general strategy regarding sales of non-core assets and acquisitions, as it posted higher interim profits.

St Gobain said operating profits had edged up 0.3 percent from a year ago to 1.47 billion euros ($1.7 billion), while recurring net profits advanced 6.8 percent to 802 million euros.

Sales rose 1.9 percent to 20.79 billion euros, and St Gobain kept its 2018 full-year targets, namely for a like-for-like increase in operating profits and said the second-half of the year should mark a stronger performance to the first half.

In May, St Gobain dropped a plan to wrest control of Swiss rival Sika via a minority stake that carried extra voting rights. The French company instead took up a 10.75 percent holding in Sika.

“After having agreed a transaction with Sika on excellent financial terms, the group will accelerate the implementation of its strategy,” said St Gobain chairman and chief executive Pierre-Andre de Chalendar in a statement.

He said this would include the roll-out of a divestment program representing at least 3 billion euros in sales by the end of 2019, the continuation of its policy of value-creating acquisitions, and a review of the company’s organisational structure to improve its overall performance.

$1 = 0.8578 euros Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Leigh Thomas

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