Owens-Illinois Inc. is a Fortune 500 company that specializes in container glass products. It is one of the world's leading manufacturers of packaging products, holding the position of largest manufacturer of glass containers in North America, South America, Asia-Pacific and Europe (after acquiring BSN Glasspack in 2004 ). Approximately one of every two glass containers made worldwide is made by O-I, its affiliates, or its licensees.
While legally known as Owens-Illinois, Inc., the company changed its trade name to O-I in 2005 to group its global operations under a single, cross-language and cross-culture brand name.
The company's headquarters were previously located in One SeaGate, Toledo, Ohio, a local landmark. The headquarters were moved in late 2006 to the Levis Commons complex in Perrysburg, Ohio. The company is the successor to the Owens Bottle Company founded in 1903 by Michael Joseph Owens, who made the first automated bottle-making machine, and Edward Drummond Libbey. In 1929, the Owens Bottle Company merged with Illinois Glass Company to become Owens-Illinois, Inc.
Until July 2007, the company was also a worldwide manufacturer of plastics packaging with operations in North America, South America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Plastics packaging products manufactured by O-I included containers, closures, and prescription containers. In July 2007 O-I completed the sale of its entire plastics packaging business to Rexam PLC, a UK listed packaging manufacturer.
O-I was a part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from June 1, 1959 until March 12, 1987. The company was added to the S&P 500 Index in January 2009. O-I was one of the original S&P 500 companies in 1957. It was removed in 1987 (after purchase by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts), added in 1991 and removed again in 2000.
In October 2010, Owens-Illinois Venezuela C.A was expropriated by President Hugo Chávez.
In May 2015, O-I made an offer to purchase the food and beverage glass container business of Mexican company Vitro for $2.15 billion. Timing for finalization has not been announced.
O-I partnered with NEG (Nippon Electric Glass), to produce glass television screens at its Columbus, Ohio and Pittston, Pennsylvania plants in the 1970s through the mid-1990s before allowing Techneglas to take over the operations.
Although it has not made an asbestos-containing materials since 1958, Owens-Illinois invented, tested, manufactured and distributed KAYLO asbestos containing thermal pipe insulation from 1948 through 1958. Owens-Illinois remains a named defendant in numerous asbestos litigation matters throughout the U.S. Some claims in these cases allege that Owens-Illinois was a participant in the seventh annual Saranac Seminar when the cancer-causing potential of asbestos was studied in the 1950s.