Sage Electrochromics Sold to French Co. Saint-Gobain

In late 2010, Saint-Gobain bought an initial 50 percent stake in Sage; the French glass and building materials giant said that assuming full ownership will allow Sage to expand into international markets, develop new products, and complete construction of its new manufacturing facility in Faribault.

Major French glass and building materials company Saint-Gobain said Wednesday that it has agreed to buy the remaining 50 percent stake in Faribault-based Sage Electrochromics, Inc.

Paris-based Saint-Gobain did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. But in late 2010, it paid $80 million for its initial 50 percent stake in Sage, which makes electronically tintable glass.

When the transaction is completed and Saint-Gobain owns 100 percent of Sage, Sage will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary-but the glass will continue to be sold under the SageGlass brand.

Saint-Gobain said that the deal will help Sage expand into international markets, develop new products, and complete construction of its new manufacturing facility in Faribault, which has been under construction since late 2010.

The $135 million facility, scheduled to start production in January 2013, is expected to produce 3.2 million square feet of tintable glass annually and create 160 jobs.

When a coating on Sage's electrochromic glass receives low-voltage stimulation, ions and electrons rearrange themselves to create or clear the tint. The glass reduces heat and glare in buildings, helping owners and occupants to save as much as 40 percent on energy bills. The tinting function can be integrated into a building management system or programmed to change at the push of a button.

“We are delighted Sage is joining Saint-Gobain's portfolio of innovative glass and building materials,” Sage CEO and founder John Van Dine said in a statement. “They have been an outstanding partner the past two years, contributing technical and manufacturing expertise, financial support, and strategic guidance to the Sage team, as well as offering access to the company's research centers.”

In recent years, Sage has received financing and loans from both the federal government and the State of Minnesota. According to the Star Tribune, government agencies have collectively offered the company at least $118 million in incentives to boost employment and energy conservation. Sage's technology is reportedly seen as valuable to the country's power grid because it could reduce air-conditioning needs when electricity hits peak demand.

“The result of many years of research, Sage's products and technologies complement our portfolio of materials,” Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, chairman and CEO of Saint-Gobain, said in a statement. “They open up new possibilities in architecture and design by offering creative, value-added glass solutions for the commercial and residential market in order to create buildings that are comfortable, beautiful, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.”

Saint-Gobain, which has U.S. headquarters in Pennsylvania, has more than 265 locations in North America and employs roughly 19,000. Including Sage employees, the company has nearly 400 workers in six facilities across Minnesota. Last year, its sales in the United States and Canada together totaled about $7.7 billion.