UPDATE 1-U.S. opposes proposed Ardagh purchase of Saint-Gobain unit
(Adds background, quote from FTC complaint)
WASHINGTON, July 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday it had filed a complaint aimed at stopping Ireland's Ardagh Group S.A.'s proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of a unit of France's Saint-Gobain that makes glass containers for the U.S. market.
Industry leader Owens-Illinois Inc, Saint-Gobain Containers Inc and Ardagh dominate the $5 billion U.S. market for glass containers and Ardagh's purchase of the unit would give the Irish company 75 percent of the U.S. market for beer and liquor bottles, the FTC said.
"The result will be higher prices, lower availability and less innovation," the FTC said in its complaint.
Ardagh, an Irish company that specializes in cans and bottles for food and drink, entered the U.S. glass container market in 2012 when it bought third-ranking Anchor Glass Container Corporation and the much smaller Leone Industries. Ardagh said in mid-January that it would pay $1.7 billion for Saint-Gobain's North American glass container operation.
Saint-Gobain plans to exit the low-margin business and focus on higher-margin building materials operations.
The Saint-Gobain unit, called Verallia North America, makes jars and bottles for everything from wine to hard liquor to beer to oils and vinegars and spices, according to its website.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Gary Hill and Andre Grenon)