After a phase of consolidation in the wake of the major BÖHLER-UDDEHOLM acquisition and the 2008/09 financial crisis, the Group’s investment activities were again significantly increased during the first three quarters of the business year 2012/13. The stepped up investments affected all four divisions, with the reporting the largest boost percentage-wise due to the long-planned major blast furnace repair. Overall, during the first nine months of 2012/13, investments in the voestalpine Group rose by 40.9% compared to the previous year, going from EUR 353.8 million to EUR 498.4 million.
In the , investment expenditure in the first three quarters of 2012/13 went up by more than a third in comparison to the previous year, going from EUR 140.4 million to EUR 188.3 million. In addition to a number of investments that concentrated on replacements and retrofitting, the focus was on the last projects of the “L6” investment program. After the on-schedule commissioning of the DeNOX system at the sintering band in late 2012, “L6” will be finalized in the coming business year with the completion of continuous annealing line 2 that is focused on electrical steel strip (investment volume EUR 150 million).
The investment program “Linz 2020,” which is replacing the “L6” project, does not comprise another increase in volume at the Linz site; instead, it is concentrating on ensuring the Group’s technology and quality leadership and working on an improvement of the product mix. Furthermore, in addition to major repairs on all three blast furnaces scheduled for the next several years, “Linz 2020” sets forth comprehensive measures intended to further optimize cost-effectiveness, including in the raw material supply segment. A project from this program that is already being implemented is the new construction of the roll stand in the heavy plate segment that is utilized primarily in the development of new product qualities; completion is slated for the business year 2014/15.
The invested a total of EUR 91.9 million in the first nine months of 2012/13, 44.7% more than in the previous year (EUR 63.5 million). One of the most important investments in the production area during the business year thus far was the expansion of capacity for the production of powder-metallurgical steels at the site in Kapfenberg/Austria. Another focus is currently the development of a new concept for the steel plant in Wetzlar/Germany; within the scope of a four-year program, the plant will be designed so as to achieve greater productivity and quality, be environmentally friendly, and ensure occupational safety. Additionally, ongoing investments are being carried out in the sales companies, primarily expansions and additions in the areas of pre-processing and processing, not only in order to extend the value chain but to improve the effectiveness of their customer service across the board.
In the course of the business year thus far, the Metal Engineering Division has spent EUR 123.0 million on investments, almost double the previous year’s figure of EUR 67.0 million. The focus was on the major repair of the blast furnace (relining) at the site in Donawitz/Austria. By producing billets and blooms in advance, it was possible to ensure that downstream operations would be sufficiently supplied even while the blast furnace was being relined. The work took three months and the reconditioned blast furnace resumed operation in early October. In the Wire business segment, construction of a production facility for ultra-high-tensile fine wire was continued at CPA Filament GmbH; voestalpine had acquired a majority stake in this company around eight months ago (see also the chapter “Acquisitions”).
The increase in investment expenditure by the of 17.3% to EUR 89.3 million is proportionally the lowest figure of all the four divisions, however, it began at a level of expenditure that was already very high (EUR 76.1 million in the previous year). In mid-November 2012, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Cartersville, Georgia/USA for the construction of a plant that will produce automobile components. Production is slated to begin in the first half of the business year 2013/14. As part of voestalpine’s globalization strategy, similar investments are being implemented concurrently in China and South Africa as well.
China is also the site of a new production hall and machine park for the production of special sections; the contract for their construction was awarded in the third quarter of the current business year. In the Precision Strip business segment, the new rolling and strip processing center in Kematen/Austria has almost been completed.