Restructuring of the Group. From VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG to voestalpine AG
The privatization of VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG began in October 1995 with the sale of 31.7 percent of the Republic of Austria’s shares on the stock exchange. BÖHLER-UDDEHOLM AG was also listed in 1995.
A number of acquisitions were made during these years. In 1998, for example, the VOEST-ALPINE KREMS Group strengthened its already leading position in Europe in the sector of steel sections and tubes through the acquisition of the British company METSEC plc. In 2001 voestalpine motion gmbh acquired the Dutch automotive industry supplier Polynorm. The Railway Systems Division also boosted its market leadership through the addition of TSTG (Thyssen Schienen Technik GmbH) in Duisburg, Germany. In 1998, however, the acquisition of PREUSSAG STAHL AG in Salzgitter, Germany, by the VOEST-ALPINE STAHL Group was blocked by the intervention of German politicians.
Up to 1998 the product portfolio of the Group was further enhanced through an extensive expansion program and the processing percentage was increased even further.
During this period investments implemented included the following projects and facilities:
• At VOEST-ALPINE STAHL Linz GmbH the casthouse dedusting system at Blast Furnace A went into operation in 1995 and the new gas and steam turbines for the generation of electricity and industrial steam in the power plant, in 1996. The latter was an economic and environmental milestone (reduction of nitrogen oxides), since it made the company largely self-sufficient with respect to energy supply.
• Also in Linz project work was initiated on a facility to manufacture laser-welded blanks (sheet steel blanks for the automotive industry), which began operation in mid 1997, after a record construction time of only one year.
• In 1997 VOEST-ALPINE SCHIENEN GmbH & CO KG in Donawitz started a remodeling and expansion program to ensure the continuation of its technological leadership.
• In 1998 at VOEST-ALPINE STAHL LINZ GmbH the continuous annealing line in Cold Rolling Mill 2 – a milestone in continuous annealing technology in Europe – started production, followed in 1999 by Secondary Dedusting 2 and in 2000 by a new vacuum system in LD Steelmaking Plant 3. In 2001 voestalpine Grobblech GmbH achieved an important success with the product launch of its innovative sour service plates for tubes.
• The Donawitz site received a modernization boost. In 2000 this included the conversion of the LD steel mill into a LD compact steelmaking plant incorporating state-of-the-art technology and in 2001, the decision to invest in the modernization and expansion of rail production.
Beginning in November 2001 the employee shareholding scheme was implemented on the group level. Employees at the Austrian sites held approximately 4 percent of the shares of their company.
In 2001 the corporate structure was altered. A breakdown into the divisions of Steel, motion, Railway Systems and Profilform reflected a clear orientation towards processing. This encompassed the conviction that steel would not only be processed further and upgraded, but that the value chain should also be very significantly extended ("More out of steel"). The Group strategy continued to focus on quality rather than on an increase in volumes (High-tech company and market niche provider). At this time, the name of the Group was changed to voestalpine AG and from this time onwards follows an umbrella brand strategy under the brand voestalpine.