Birth of Glaverbel
With the rapid development of mechanisation, there was a concentration of the glass industry in Belgium. This led in 1961 to the merger of the two largest Belgian producers of flat glass, Glaver and Univerbel, to form Glaverbel. In 1965 Glaverbel set up the first float glass plant in continental Europe, at Moustier (Belgium).
Diversification into glass processing
Between 1972 and 1981 the French group BSN (Danone) held control over Glaverbel and incorporated the latter into its flat glass division. The float glass revolution led to radical restructuring of the glass industry, with existing glass furnaces being shut down. The accompanying disruption to employment in the glass industry was exacerbated by the worldwide recession that hit the economy in the mid-1970s. In response Glaverbel introduced a policy of processing the raw glass into finished or semi-finished products.
Geographical expansion in western Europe
In 1981 BSN spun off its flat glass activities, and Glaverbel was acquired by AGC. The launch of Glaverbel on the Brussels Stock Exchange in 1987 gave the company the financial resources it needed for an ambitious programme of growth, with geographical expansion in western Europe and investments in high-tech products.
Pioneer and leader in central and eastern Europe
In 1991 Glaverbel was the first western industrial company to invest in the former Czechoslovakia, taking over the national flat glass producer (now AGC Flat Glass Czech) in stages. Buoyed by this success, in 1997 Glaverbel became the first western glass producer to invest in Russia, with a phased takeover of that country's largest glass producer (now AGC Bor Glassworks).
Consolidation in western Europe and Russia
In 1998 Glaverbel acquired the European flat glass activities of PPG Glass Industries, with plants mainly located in France and Italy. In 2004 it reaffirmed its leadership in Russia with the construction of an integrated industrial complex in Klin, with combined production of float glass, mirror glass and superinsulating glass. This was the first glass plant in Russia ever to be built on a greenfield site by a western glass producer.
Full integration into AGC
In 2002, as part of its worldwide reorganisation AGC took full control of Glaverbel, which was delisted from the stock exchange. In 2007, AGC adopted a single name for all its companies around the world, and so Glaverbel became AGC Flat Glass Europe, and in 2010, AGC Glass Europe.
Expansion in the automotive and building sectors
In 2012 AGC Glass Europe teamed up with Interpane, a large German glass processor, thus expanding the group's capabilities in coated glass for the building industry. Then in 2015 it acquired NordGlass, a Polish company active in automotive replacement glass, making it the European leader in this sector.
Shaping the future of glass
AGC Glass Europe sees its future in expansion of its technological leadership in Europe and beyond, mainly through partnerships such as the one in Saudi Arabia with Obeikan for coated glass for the building industry, or in Morocco with Induver for automotive glass. But its future will also include new advances in "smart glass": electro-luminescent glass, connective glass, active glass and others, all pointing towards the next technological revolution in the glass industry.