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The Management Board of voestalpine AG

Ladies and Gentlemen: (handwriting)

Since the last months of 2013, a growing number of voices have been arguing that 2014 will ultimately see a return to stable global growth, thus finally overcoming the financial crisis of 2008/09 and its consequences. Remembering the years 2012 and 2013, one cannot help but feel a sense of déjà-vu: this is conspicuously similar to what was being said at the beginning of 2012, and then again a year ago but with significantly greater conviction, and now we are hearing it again …

If the economic optimists lose twice in a row in a historic target-performance comparison, then the prospect that they are right the third time around seems a reasonable assumption. Nevertheless, a case can be made that the economic expectations for 2014 should be viewed with some caution. There is no doubt that there are many signs in North America that point to a sustained uptrend; there are many indications that the development in China will be largely stable; and there are signals that suggest a successful continuation of the financial and economic turnaround in Europe. Despite all of these things, one should not lose track of the fact that, at the same time, over significant parts of the global economic system, governments and economies are struggling with economic and even with political problems. This is the case in important countries in South America, in India, Turkey, the Ukraine, and others. As a result, this leads increasingly to short-term—but in some cases far-reaching—international exchange rate volatility with effects on all other economies that can be substantial.

The fact that there still remain many open questions with regard to the sweeping reorganization of the energy supply in major parts of the world is not very reassuring. Such changes naturally result in political, ideological, economic, and social conflicts as well as considerable uncertainty about the future, and this can be simplified and aptly expressed by way of a single word: Energiewende (energy transition or energy paradigm shift).

It’s not that we would wish yet another year full of uncertainty and setbacks upon ourselves. Rather, it is about being aware that the hoped for and anticipated uptrend is not a done deal, and that it is very probable that that there will still be obstacles that need to be overcome. In any case, one thing is clear: 2014 offers better conditions to finally leave the crisis-ridden years behind and move toward a more or less “normal” development of the economy than has been the case since it all began with Lehman Brothers.

Linz, February 10, 2014

The Management Board






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