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Pilkington wins £500m GM deal

Pilkington's operation in America has won a £500m six-year contract to supply glass for a new generation of cars being built by General Motors, which yesterday reported record profits for the first quarter.

The news came as France's leading car maker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, rebounded into profit after the success of a government scheme to encourage consumers to sell old vehicles for new models.

The US glass contract for Libbey-Owens-Ford, a supplier to the world's largest car maker for 60 years, will run from about 1998, when production of the new GM cars and light trucks begins. LOF, a $1bn-turnover firm employing 6,000, supplies advanced glass and glazing products to most US-based automotive makers.

A spokesman for Pilkington, which provides glass for one in four vehicles built around the world, said it was an important order. "It's all revenue that feeds into Pilkington UK."

Profits at GM improved sharply on higher US sales and improvements in its foreign operations. GM, whose UK division, Vauxhall, reports profits next week, earned $2.2bn, the best quarter in its history. The increase was up from $1.3bn in earnings at the same time last year, when GM took an after-tax accounting charge of $758m.

GM's revenues jumped to $43.3bn, from $37.5bn. John Smith, chief executive, said: "Our performance reflects positive contributions from all of GM's business sectors with particularly strong results from our automotive sectors." Net profit margin, the amount GM makes on each dollar of sales, rose to 5.5 per cent, the best level since the second quarter of 1984. Mr Smith said: "We have not achieved the necessary competitive levels in our cost position, but we are making progress."

In France, PSA Peugeot Citroen surprised analysts with a 1994 profit of Fr3.1bn (£416m), against a loss of Fr1.4bn, due to the success of its Xantia and 306 models. Overall, it produced 1.99 million cars last year.