1997/98/99: Initial expansion measures; crises in Russia and Asia 2 minutes spent reading

1997/98/99: Initial expansion measures; crises in Russia and Asia

Volkmar Held
As a freelance writer, Volkmar Held reports for voestalpine on topics that move people. The content of his stories ranges from archaeometallurgy to future technologies.

From 1997 through 1999, the situation of VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG was characterized by strategic expansion deliberations, the first successful downstream acquisitions and technical optimizations and a global decline in steel shares.

VAE Group

VAE Group

In 1997/98/99, the Group’s development entered a new stage. After a phase of consistent cost optimization and efficiency improvement, it was time for the company to enter a growth phase. A strategy of expanding VOEST-ALPINE STEEL AG was adopted.

Successful acquisitions

Purchasing equity stakes and acquiring entire companies in Central and Eastern Europe was intended as a means of extending the value chain.

  • The British METSEC plc was acquired in the summer of 1998. This strengthened the VOEST-ALPINE KREMS Group’s leading position in the European steel profiles and tubes segment.
  • In a joint venture with a German partner, over 90% of VAE in Zeltweg, the global market leader for turnout technologies, was acquired.
  • The Group’s 50% stakeholding in VOEST-ALPINE INDUSTRIAL SERVICES GmbH supported intensified market activity in the field of industrial services.


Preparations to acquire PREUSSAG STAHL AG had reached an agreement in principle. However, political intervention prevented the deal from going ahead. Likewise, the purchase of steelworks in Poland (Huta T. Sendzimira, Huta Katovice) and the Czech Republic (the Nova Huta steel mill) was not realized.

Pressure from the crises

The successful acquisitions were an important step in avoiding the direct impact of cyclical economic factors on the Group. Yet despite every effort, the VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG share price was drawn into the maelstrom resulting from the falling Russian ruble and the financial crisis in South East Asia. In October 1998 it hit EUR 5.05, its lowest level in the Group’s history to date.

Two decades ago voestalpine AG started out on its path to becoming a privatized and exchange-listed company. The ‘IPO 199520 years on the stock exchange’ series describes key events on the path to becoming an internationally successful steel-based technology and capital goods group.
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Volkmar Held