After a phase of reduced investment activity that spanned several years following the major acquisition of BÖHLER-UDDEHOLM and the global financial and debt crisis, the voestalpine Group is planning to again significantly expand its investment activity, particularly in view of the fact that it has been increasingly regaining its former financial strength. Therefore, all four divisions have consistently increased their investment activity compared to the same period of the previous year, whereby the reported the largest uptick, due in particular to a long-scheduled, major blast furnace repair. Overall, the investments in the first half of 2012/13 rose in comparison to the previous year’s figure (EUR 227.4 million) by 32.4% to EUR 301.1 million.
At EUR 111.4 million, the investments of the were 18.0% higher than the previous year’s figure of EUR 94.4 million. A number of investments to replace legacy equipment were made in the first half of 2012/13. At the Linz site, the cranes both in the steel mill and in the hot rolling mill are being replaced, the pickling tandem link in the cold-rolling mill is being updated, and the electrolytic galvanizing line is getting a major overhaul. Major projects in connection with the blast furnaces are the replacement of the cowpers and the installation of a new coal injection system. In the Heavy Plate segment, the step-by-step construction of a new roll stand is on schedule.
While the “L6” investment program is in its end phase with the construction of the DeNOX system at the sintering band (start-up of operation in late 2012) and the completion of continuous annealing line 2, which is a EUR 150 million investment (start-up of operation in the business year 2013/14), the preparations for the follow-up project “Linz 2020” are in full swing. This project is focused on measures that are distinguished by outstanding cost-effectiveness on one hand, and on the other, by investments that serve to further our technology and quality leadership. In contrast to the “L6” program, the concept of the “Linz 2020” program is not based on the premise of another increase in volume at the Linz site.
In the first six months of the business year 2012/13, the investments of the came to EUR 43.2 million and were thus 28.6% above last year’s figure (EUR 33.6 million). In the current business year, the main focus is on an expansion of production capacity for powder-metallurgical steels at the Kapfenberg (Austria) site. Another focal point is on the comprehensive new concept for the steel plant in Wetzlar (Germany). Within the scope of a far-reaching four-year program, the steel plant will be calibrated step by step so that it is focused even more intensely on productivity and quality as well as environmental protection and occupational safety. Furthermore, the sales companies of the Special Steel Division will invest heavily in expansions and additions in the areas of pre-processing and processing. Thus, the sales organization will not only extend its value chain, but this will also enhance the effectiveness of its customer service.
With an increase of 92.0% from EUR 42.7 million to EUR 82.0 million, the Metal Engineering Division recorded the most marked increase of investment activity compared to the previous year. This is due primarily to the major blast furnace repair at the Donawitz site in Austria, which was completed on schedule in early October 2012 after renovation that lasted around three months. This means that the Metal Engineering Division’s entire capacity for the production of pig iron is now available.
In the first six months of the business year 2012/13, the spent EUR 61.0 million for investments, an increase of 19.4% compared to the figure for the same period of the previous year (EUR 51.1 million). The Precision Strip segment’s major investment in a new rolling and strip processing center in Kematen (Austria) is already in its second phase and is on schedule and within budget. In the Tubes & Sections segment, the construction of a facility for the production of special sections was begun near Shanghai (China); the start-up of production is scheduled for sometime in 2013/14. Internationalization is continuing in the Automotive Body Parts segment with the establishment of companies in the USA, China, and South Africa. In the first half of the business year, decisions were made with regard to sites and the initial investments are now being implemented.