Crude steel production fell by 11 % to 6 million tons
The Group’s crude steel production in the business year 2009/10 was 6.07 million tons, 10.9% below the previous year’s figure (6.81 million tons). Therefore, with a production output of 4.36 million tons, the Steel Division saw a decline by 5.0%, while the Railway Systems Division had a production output of 1.20 million tons, which corresponds to a decrease by 18.4%. The Special Steel Division reported the greatest cutbackin crude steel production from 0.75 million tons to 0.51 million tons or by 32.0%.
Investments halved in business year 2009/10
The investments of the voestalpine Group in the business year 2009/10 came to EUR 542.5 million. Of the total investments, EUR 524.9 million were attributable to tangible fixed assets, EUR 14.7 million to intangible assets, and EUR 2.9 million to equity holdings. The reduction of the Group’s investment volume by half compared with the previous year (EUR 1,078.9 million) and the relatively uniform reduction in each of the five divisions are the result of the swift and determined liquidity and cost management immediately after the outbreak of the crisis in the fall of 2008.
Number of apprentices almost at previous years level
At the end of the business year 2009/10 the voestalpine Group was training 1,472 apprentices. At 32.0%, already nearly a third (471 apprentices) are being trained at international sites compared to 68.0% (1,001 apprentices) in Austria. The number of Group-wide apprentices has thus remained almost constant—at a very high level—as compared to the previous year (1,506), declining by a mere 2.3% or 34 apprentices.
Reduced working hours fading out until Summer
At the height of implementation of reduced working hours in June 2009, almost one third of the staff was affected; since the fall of 2009, the employment situation has eased to the extent that it was possible to cut back the number of employees still working reduced hours by the end of the business year 2009/10 to only 1,460 employees (this corresponds to 3.7% of the Company’s workforce). Already in April reduced working hours were cut back completely in Austria and fell to only 317 emplyoees (0.8 % of the workforce) outside Austria. Until summer all employees Group wide still working reduced hours will return to normal working hours.
No acquisitions, one divestment in business year 2009/10
In the business year 2009/10, the voestalpine Group did not make any acquisitions; instead, against the backdrop of the economic crisis, it focused on streamlining and consolidation of its portfolio of companies.
In the Automotive Division, the sale of the Italian company Euroweld S.r.l., which is active in the production of laser-welded blanks, as well as the closure of the British site St. Helens, which had been part of the plastics segment of the voestalpine Polynorm Group, were completed as of April 1, 2009.
The efforts to sell the two remaining companies in the plastics segment of the Automotive Division in the Netherlands as well as the French company Amstutz Levin & Cie have not yet been successful due to the difficult economic and financial circumstances. These companies, which had previously been recorded under discontinued operations, were therefore again included under continuing operations in the business year 2009/10 and were undergoing a reinforced restructuring process.
R&D expenses stable at a very high level despite economic crisis
Despite the economic crisis, the voestalpine Group’s expenses for research and development remained at a very high level. The R&D budget, which was at EUR 111.9 million for the past business year (thus precisely corresponding to the actual 2008/09 figure, the absolute record thus far), was not completely exhausted due to this sector’s ongoing efficiency gains so that at EUR 108.8 million, the actual R&D expenses represented a slight decline by 2.8%. The estimated R&D expenses for the current business year amount to EUR 111 million; this means that after increasing its innovation expenses four-fold in the last ten years, the voestalpine Group has kept them at the all-time high for already three consecutive years, even after the onset of the economic crisis.
The development of the research ratio (R&D expenses to total revenue) should also be highlighted. This key figure went up in the past business year from 0.96% to 1.27%, while the R&D coefficient (expenses measured by added value) rose just as significantly from 2.58% to 3.42%.
Voestalpine patents again up
The trend with regard to patents was equally gratifying: Running against the worldwide declining number of new patent registrations in the 2009 calendar year due to the economic crisis (globally by more than 4%, in Europe by more than 8%), the voestalpine Group was even able to further increase the number of its patents. Despite comprehensive streamlining of the patent portfolio by about 260 proprietary/patent rights, the total number rose in the past year by roughly 200 or about 6% to 3,470 patents (applied for and granted).
Again multiple awards for the voestalpine Group’s high environmental standards
The Group’s environmental standards, which put it among the leaders in the field by international benchmarks, were again honored in the business year 2009/10 with a number of awards. To name just two examples, the lime works in Steyrling was awarded the Sustainability Prize 2010 by “Forum Rohstoffe” and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for changing to environmentally friendly mining practices, and VAE Eisenbahnsysteme GmbH received the European EMAS Award 2009 for green procurement in the category of “large corporations.” It should be noted that this Group
company, whose 2009 National EMAS Award was its fourth, was the first Austrian company ever to receive this European award.
Financial burden for the purchase of emission rights will come to about EUR 50 million
From today’s perspective, the financial burden for the purchase of CO2 certificates in the second trading period (2008–2012) will come to about EUR 50 million. The voestalpine Group already ensured the necessary number of certificates and has already purchased about half of them. The remainder will be purchased by the end of the period.