VÖEST up to the Merger with Österreichisch-Alpine Montangesellschaft

Continuous slab casting unit

In the 1960s VÖEST became, by Austrian standards, a huge and multi-faceted conglomerate.

The passage of the First Nationalization-Organization Act of 1963 led to a reorganization of VÖEST. The goals of this were to counteract cyclical economic fluctuations, to concentrate the quite scattered ownership structures of the state-owned industries and to create efficient management and coordination. Consequently, in 1963 several plants that had already been closely associated with VÖEST were integrated in the process of group formation (the Krems steelworks and Wiener Brückenbau, as subsidiaries; the Liezen plant with mechanical engineering and foundry, as production departments). It was decided to reorganize the production program of the Krems steelworks.

A special investment program for 1965-1968 aimed at the modernization of finishing operations, the automation of the rolling mill and the reduction of pressure on several production facilities where bottlenecks sometimes occurred, led among other things to the construction of a 10,000 m³ oxygen system and of the first continuous slab casting unit at LD Steelmaking Plant 2, which began operation in 1968. In addition, LD Steelmaking Plant 2 received its sixth converter, which not only increased production capacity, but also served as a showcase incorporating the most modern technology for VÖEST’s industrial plant construction (Industrieanlagenbau).

To enable long-term corporate planning, the Management Board decided on February 17, 1969, to authorize planning working groups to define the goals of the company and its business segments and to engage in long-term planning regarding what measures should be taken. This decision corresponded to the wish of the corporate management to anchor the concept of long-term planning in the company. “Goals and Agenda of VÖEST for the Mid 1970s,“ adopted by the Management Board in December 1969 and acknowledged and approved by the Supervisory Board, represented the first steps in this kind of general planning.

New facilities that started operation in Linz between 1970 and 1973 included a Sendzimir cluster cold rolling mill (built under license by the mechanical engineering department), which made it possible to produce very thin plate; the LD steelmaking plant; and the galvanizing line in Cold Rolling Mill 2. A new training center for apprentices was also opened. With the addition of the Sendzimir cluster cold rolling mill, VÖEST then had three cold rolling mills with an annual total capacity of 650,000 tons of sheet steel and plate.

On June 20, 1972, Österreichische Industrieverwaltungs-Aktiengesellschaft or ÖIAG (Austrian Industry Administration AG), which administered the interests of the Republic of Austria in nationalized companies, decided to implement a merger between VÖEST, Linz, and the operations of Österreichisch-Alpine Montangesellschaft, Vienna. The aim of this was to increase the efficiency of both organizations. The merger, to which there was strong opposition, was retroactive to January 1, 1973, on the basis of the relevant federal act of February 15, 1973. VÖEST was afraid that it would suffer losses due to the clearly less favorable economic situation of Alpine AG, while the latter feared that it would be dominated by VÖEST.

In Linz high quality flat products – sheet steel and plate of all grades and dimensions – were manufactured from the steel produced there. In Donawitz semi-finished products such as billets, slabs and blanks were produced, as well as finished products including steel bars and sections, wire rods, hot-rolled steel strip and rails.

Under the same federal act, the interests of ÖIAG in Gebrüder Böhler & Co. AG, Vienna, and Schoeller-Bleckmann Stahlwerke AG, Vienna, were transferred as a contribution in kind to the assets of the new VÖEST-ALPINE AG, effective from January 1, 1973.

At that time the group encompassed a total of 103 companies, in which the parent company VÖEST-ALPINE AG held a majority interest either directly or through its subsidiaries. In addition to this, qualified minority interests were held in 14 companies.