In the course of implementing the voestalpine Group’s value-added growth strategy, investment activity was markedly expanded over the past few quarters. From a long-term perspective, this involves consistently enhancing the claim to leadership in technology and quality within the Group’s core segments. In this context, the investment volume of the voestalpine Group rose during the first six months of the current business year by 44.2% over the previous year, going from EUR 301.1 million to EUR 434.1 million. Specifically, the reported the sharpest increase, while investments in the declined slightly, due to the heavy level of expenditures during the summer of the previous year that were connected to the (scheduled) blast furnace repair.
Investments doubled from EUR 111.4 million in the first half of 2012/13 to EUR 226.1 million in the current business year; over 50% of the Group investment volume is attributed to the Steel Division. Its current principle investment plans affect both the metallurgical business segment as well as the further processing of hot slabs into high-quality steel strips and heavy plate. Currently, the cowpers are being replaced on main blast furnace A; at the same time, the preparatory phase to install the coal injection system is running on all three blast furnaces at the Linz (Austria) site. To further increase the proportion of the most sophisticated steel grades, over the next three years the Group will invest in additional secondary metallurgy systems (vacuum system, ladle furnace) and in a new continuous casting plant. The construction of the new continuous annealing line II for the production of premium quality electric strip is currently on the verge of completion (run-up phase slated for the start of the business year 2014/15), as is the new heavy plate/rolling stand for the production of ultra high-strength heavy plate (scheduled completion date in the second half of 2014). These investments are intended first and foremost to enhance the product mix. Additionally, in the first half of 2013/14, the Group also invested in cold rolling mill 2, and in the electrolytic galvanizing facility, so that both aggregates operate with state-of-the-art technology.
Investments in the in the first six months of the business year 2013/14 equaled EUR 74.8 million, which places them 73.5% above the level of the previous year (EUR 43.1 million). In the process, a series of investments that were initiated over the past few years reached completion in the first six months of 2013/14; they are currently in the run-up phase. Thus, the expansion in capacity for producing powder-metallurgical steels at the Kapfenberg (Austria) site is one example, as is the duo rolling stand for production of premium quality special steel plates at the Mürzzuschlag (Austria) site. The configuration of the new rolling stand makes it possible not only to expand capacities but also achieve a dramatic improvement in quality. Furthermore, the build-out of the heat treatment of drop forgings reached its successful completion over the course of the four-year expansion program for the steel plant at the Wetzlar (Germany) site. In all essential sales regions of the Special Steel Division, projects are currently underway for the expansion of service activities, such as heat treatment, pre-processing, and coating. In this regard, the focus is placed on the most recently acquired companies during the course of the 2013 calendar year.
In the Metal Engineering Division, the investment expenditures in the first half of the business year 2013/14 equaled EUR 59.5 million and thus 27.4% below the previous year’s figure of EUR 82.0 million. In addition to these ongoing investments, most recently, the division’s most significant future project at this time was contracted; the new construction of the wire rolling mill at the Leoben/Donawitz (Austria) site, using today’s best available technology to replace the existing rolling mill that dates from the late 70s—will set a new benchmark for the industry in Europe. The operational launch is scheduled for 2016. Currently at the same site, the second blast furnace is also being equipped with a new throat stopper that, on the one hand, will minimize dust emissions considerably and, on the other hand, will generate a marked increase in cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, the Group is currently implementing largely routine scheduled maintenance and renovation investments.
With an addition of 15.2%, to EUR 70.3 million, the markedly expanded its investment activity in the first half of the 2013/14 business year, compared to the previous year’s figure of EUR 61.0 million. The main focus of attention here was on the implementation of the internationalization strategy founded on the new “phs-ultraform” production segment (press-hardened steels based on new technology). The buildings and systems required for this are currently being completed in the USA, South Africa, and China; the initial components will be shipped to automotive customers during this business year. As part of the consistent implementation of this strategy in Europe as well, currently the construction of two additional phs facilities is underway in Germany (Schwäbisch Gmünd). Beside the expansion efforts in the automotive business segment, investments are also being implemented as scheduled as part of the accelerated internationalization of the Tubes & Sections business segment, with a focus on China. The production of special sections there is expected to commence at the start of the business year 2014/15. In the Precision Strip business segment, the second phase of expansion was completed at the Kematen (Austria) site over the course of the first half of the business year.