Bic pen sales add up to 100 billion

PARIS - It started as an answer to leaky pens carried by American soldiers during World War II, was perfected and made popular by an Italian-born baron and has written its way into history as the world's biggest-selling pen.

More than half a century after honing a cheap version of the ballpoint pen, Bic, the French firm which built an empire out of making things to be thrown away, has just sold its 100 billionth - 100,000,000,000th - disposable ballpoint.

The group, which started small after the war, now has annual revenues of around 1.4 billion ($2.5 billion) including sales of razors and lighters.

It reported the milestone with its first-half profits.

"The pens have been sold on average 57 times a second since 1950," Bic said.

Founder Baron Marcel Bich originally planned to make fountain pen parts when he bought a factory with his partner, Edouard Buffard, outside Paris at the end of the war.

But a chance encounter with a wheelbarrow changed all that, recalls his son, Bruno Bich, who now runs the company...

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