Alcoa to Break up Into Two Companies

Amid a drop in aluminum prices, Alcoa is following the lead of other firms that have split to become more focused.
Katie Kuehner-HebertSeptember 28, 2015

Alcoa said Monday it plans to break into two, separating its struggling raw-aluminum operations from newer, bigger-ticket businesses that serve markets such as aerospace and automotive.

The new raw, or upstream business, would operate under the Alcoa name and consist of five of the current enterprise’s primary business units  bauxite, alumina, aluminum, casting, and energy while the downstream, “value-add” company, to be named later, would include global rolled products, engineered products and solutions, and transportation and construction solutions.

The upstream company would have had revenues of $13.2 billion for the year ended June 30, and the value-add company would have had $14.5 billion in revenue.

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“In the last few years, we have successfully transformed Alcoa to create two strong value engines that are now ready to pursue their own distinctive strategic directions,” Alcoa’s Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld said in a news release.

The Wall Street Journal said Alcoa is following the lead of other companies such as Danaher and Hewlett-Packard that have announced plans to break up their businesses to boost revenues. Large institutional shareholders concerned about Alcoa’s tumbling share price had been pushing for a breakup.

“The trend has been fueled by the idea that companies with a narrower focus perform better,” the WSJ wrote.

Alcoa has closed or curtailed 33% of its total smelting capacity since 2007, and has struggled with low prices for raw aluminum as China floods global markets with steel, aluminum and other industrial metals.

“The split is one of the most dramatic corporate consequences of the commodity bust driven by a slowdown in Chinese economic growth,” the Journal observed.

After the tax-free transaction is completed, expected in the second half of 2016, Alcoa shareholders would own all of the outstanding shares of both the upstream and value-add companies. Alcoa’s stock was up about 2.5%, at $9.30, in trading Monday on news of the restructuring.

“We’ve been building these two value engines — shaping, molding, adding, brushing up, and putting them in good form,” Kleinfeld told The New York Times. “Both are fit and have enough strength and scale to stand on their own.”