VOEST, Vereinigte Österreichische Eisen- und Stahlwerke AG
VOEST, Vereinigte Österreichische Eisen- und Stahlwerke AG, Linz: Founded on 4 May, 1938, as a subsidiary of "Reichswerke" in Berlin under the name of "Reichswerke AG für Erzbergbau und Eisenhütten Hermann Göring Linz", merged in May 1938 with Alpine Montan AG. In July 1938, building construction began on the smelting plant at Linz, the first blast furnace was blown in on 1 October, 1941, 3 more blast furnaces were completed by 1944. "Eisenwerke Oberdonau AG" weapons factory was built on the site. From July 1944 onwards, the plant was destroyed by successive air raids in 1945; it was confiscated as German assets by the American occupation troops. Re-named "Vereinigte österreichische Eisen- und Stahlwerke AG" (VÖEST) in July 1945, the company was detached from Alpine Montan AG, nationalised and handed over by the Americans to the Austrian authorities (Nationalised Industry) in 1946. From 1947, VOEST experienced a formidable upswing as a sheet metal manufacturer and became an export-oriented model enterprise of Austria´s nationalised industry. Great progress was achieved through the development of the LD Process. In 1973, the enterprise VOEST was merged with Oesterreichisch-Alpine Montangesellschaft, the new company was named VOEST-Alpine AG and was placed under the administration of the Österreichische Industrieverwaltungs-AG (ÖIAG, Österreichische Industrieholding AG). The following years were marked by an international steel crisis and shrinking markets, which resulted in manpower reduction (early retirement plan) from 1975 and endeavours to open new markets through emphasis on finished products (industrial plants), participation in many companies, new products (electronics), foreign investment (Bayou Steel mill in the USA), and the founding of a trading company (Intertrading). Considerable losses were accumulated in 1985, (VOEST-Alpine AG ATS 11.1 billion, Intertrading ATS 2.4 billion), so that the company had to be restructured once again.
Between 1980 and 1985, the number of VOEST-Alpine AG workers and employees fell from 41,900 to 38,100, the whole company shrank from 79,400 to 69,700; at the same time the turnover of VOEST-Alpine AG (excluding Intertrading) rose from ATS 32.9 billion to ATS 46.9 billion, the whole group improved its turnover during the same period from ATS 58 billion to ATS 97 billion.
In 1988/89, VOEST-Alpine AG was divided into 6 holding companies according to sectors: VOEST Alpine Stahl AG (steel); Stahl Linz Ges. m. b. H. (steel); Maschinen- und Anlagenbauholding AG (machines and equipment); Industrieanlagenbau Ges. m. b. H. (industrial plants); Bergbau Holding AG; Machinery, Construction & Engineering Ges. m. b. H.
VOEST Stahl Linz AG continues to operate the former VÖEST plant in Linz, from 1990 to 1992 as a sector group of Austrian Industries AG. Privatisation in 1993 basically brought a division of Austrian Industries AG into 3 groups: VA Technologie AG, Böhler-Uddeholm AG, and VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG. Further important companies which have emerged from the VOEST group include VAE AG, TAMROCK VOEST-ALPINE Bergtechnik Ges. m. b. H. and VAMED AG.
Literature: F. Summer, Das VOEST-Debakel, 1987; Geschichte der VOEST, ed. by "Geschichte Club VOEST", 1991.
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