In order to be able to fulfill the pioneering role in technology, which it has established in recent years, even more comprehensively in the future and to sustain its commitment to extremely sophisticated products, investment in the voestalpine Group in the first three quarters of 2014/15 was again increased compared to the same period in the previous year, going from EUR 657.5 million to EUR 747.1 million, an uptick of 13.6%. Relatively speaking, the Metal Engineering Division saw the greatest boost in investment at 65.6%; however, this figure also includes the acquisitions undertaken by the division in the third quarter of 2014/15 (see also the “Acquisitions” section). At EUR 349.7 million, investments by the Steel Division in the first nine months of 2014/15 were only slightly higher than in the previous year (EUR 343.7 million). Besides necessary replacement of legacy equipment, investments by this division were focused on cost, product, and technology optimization measures. Current priority projects are the construction of a direct reduction plant in Texas (completion scheduled for late 2015/early 2016), installation of coal injection systems on all three blast furnaces in Linz (in the completion stage), construction of secondary metallurgy system 4 (commissioning slated for the fall of 2015), construction of a new heavy plate rolling mill (commissioning slated for the fall of 2015) as well as construction of continuous casting facility 8 (construction recently contracted).
Investment in the Special Steel Division in the first three quarters of 2014/15 amounted to a total of EUR 99.1 million, a decline of 8.8% compared to the previous year’s figure of EUR 108.7 million. The main focus of investment activity was on the Value-Added Services segment. As of the beginning of the current business year, a coating service center was established in Shanghai, China, and a coating facility in Taiwan began operations as of the beginning of the third quarter. Significant expansion has also been undertaken in strategic markets in the tool steel hardening segment, which is upstream of the coating segment. For example, the new sales center near Istanbul, Turkey, is now a one-stop provider of both sophisticated tool steel and high quality heat and surface treatment processes and in mid-January 2015, a sales company that also provides pre-processing facilities was opened in Puebla, Mexico.
In the first three quarters of 2014/15, investment, including acquisitions, in the Metal Engineering Division was at EUR 165.1 million, around two thirds higher than last year’s figure of EUR 99.7 million. The division’s strategically most significant project is the construction of a new wire rod mill (including a walking beam furnace) in Donawitz, Austria. which has extremely sophisticated technology. To enable continuing technological improvement of innovative rail grades, the Rail business segment is also erecting a new walking beam furnace.
In the first nine months of the business year 2014/15, the Metal Forming Division invested a total of EUR 126.9 million, an increase of 28.2% compared to the previous year’s level (EUR 99.0 million). Investments, which were part of the comprehensive expansion and internationalization strategy, were focused primarily on the press-hardened steel segment (“phs-ultraform”), which is based on new technology. In the third quarter, two new “phs” lines in Schmölln and Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, were being put into operation; they will complement production sites belonging to the Automotive Body Parts business segment in the USA, South Africa, and China. In addition, at the beginning of the current business year, production of special sections for construction and agricultural machinery started up in Suzhou, China.