voestalpine AG from 2002 up to the Acquisition of BÖHLER-UDDEHOLM AG
In 2002 the Steel Division started its more than 2 billion euro investment programm called "Linz 2010" at the Linz site. "Linz 2010" was - at that time - the biggest investment program of an Austrian industrial company and was originally scheduled for the year 2010 and entered into its last stage in 2007 - and therefore distinctly earlier than planned. This program of expansion and modernization encompassed new processing facilities, an increase in capacities, the creation of new jobs and a reduction of pollutant emissions. Its overall objective was to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the company and thus to safeguard the future of the Linz site.
The heart of “Linz 2010” was the relining and expansion of Blast Furnace A in the fall of 2004. In this process the hearth diameter of the furnace was increased from 10.5 to 12 meters. Associated facilities were aligned with this new capacity (among others, the sintering plant, the power plant, LD Steelmaking Plant 3, the rolling mills and the coil coating lines).
The decisions, plannings, and first steps of implementation of the follow-up-project “L6”, in which “L” stands for the Linz site and “6” for the increase of the crude steel production of approximately 5.4 million tons to more than 6 million tons per year, belong also to this period of time.
In 2002 the 45.3 percent share of VAE held by Vossloh AG were acquired. With that and the acquisition of the remaining 9.4 percent free-float shares in January 2003 voestalpine Bahnsysteme GmbH became the sole owner of the world’s leading manufacturer of turnouts.
In March 2003 the employee shareholding scheme of voestalpine AG increased to 6.4 percent and in the fall of 2003 it rose to around 10.5 percent.
In September of that year voestalpine was fully privatized and a convertible bond for the remaining 15% of government-owned shares was issued. The bond was converted on August 31, 2005, which meant that voestalpine was then fully in private ownership. In addition, at the end of 2005 the “division motion“ was renamed “Automotive Division.”
In 2006 the world’s most modern rail rolling mill began production in Donawitz. Thanks to the use of “universal rolling technology,” it was possible not only to achieve greater flexibility in production, but also to enhance the site’s technology leadership with respect to special rails.
In 2007 voestalpine Grobblech GmbH, a company of the Steel Division, received the biggest single order in its history up to that time. This was for the delivery of 200,000 tons of high quality heavy plates, which were processed into pipeline tubes for the most challenging sections of the North Stream gas pipeline project between Russian and Germany in the Baltic Sea.
Despite increases in production, environmental awareness and vigorous environmental management led to a clear reduction of emissions. In Linz the MEROS (which stands for maximized emission reduction of sintering) system, the world’s most modern and environmentally friendly waste gas treatment system for sintering plants, began operation in 2007. It reduced emissions from the sintering process by an average of 90%. In addition, in the same year a system of plastic injection began operation in Blast Furnace A. In this, specially prepared plastic waste in pelletized form was used to a large extent as a substitute for fossil-based reducing agents (such as heavy oil and coke), thereby reducing CO2 and SO2 emissions even further.
R&D and innovation was of great importance to the Group. For example, in the fall of 2004 a new research center was opened in Linz. voestalpine was one of the most research-intensive groups in the European Union; in 2008 it was Number 175, the best placed Austrian group. Especially noteworthy is the fact that among steel producers voestalpine was in 10th place worldwide. Numerous environment and safety awards.
The Group also continued to strengthen its international presence in the years up to 2008, for example, in Eastern Europe, India, China, Brazil and the UK. As a case in point, in 2004 the VAE Group made acquisitions in India, one of the fastest growing rail markets, that represented a further step in defending its leading global position in the segment of switches and turnout systems.
In 2007 the voestalpine Group reached a new dimension in terms of company size. voestalpine AG acquired a majority of shares in BÖHLER-UDDEHOLM AG, which was integrated as the Special Steel Division as of July 1.
In the 2007/08 business year the voestalpine Group had more than 41,000 employees, which was also a new dimension. The Group was represented by 360 production and sales companies close to customers in more than 60 countries on all continents.
Within the framework of the existing employee shareholding scheme of voestalpine, in 2008 the percentage of shares of voestalpine AG held by employees rose to 11.3 percent.
Following the acquisition of the remaining shares of BÖHLER-UDDEHOLM AG in 2008, this company was then wholly owned by voestalpine. 2008/09 was the best business year in the history of the Group so far, with revenues of 11.7 billion euros.