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Alcoa to cut jobs, shutter plants

November 22, 2006|From the Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Alcoa Inc. plans to cut 6,700 jobs worldwide and close some plants during the next year as part of a restructuring to boost profit, the aluminum maker said Tuesday.

Alcoa also said it would form a joint venture with Sapa Group, a unit of Norwegian firm Orkla. The deal will combine Alcoa's soft-alloy extrusion operations with Sapa's Profiles extruded aluminum business.

Alcoa's soft-alloy extrusion business has about 6,400 employees at 22 plants in eight countries. Three of those plants -- in Warren, Ohio; Tifton, Ga.; and Plant City, Fla. -- will not be included in the venture and will be sold, Alcoa said.

The job cuts represent about 5% of the workforce of Alcoa, which has 129,000 employees in 44 countries.

Sapa's Profiles business has 18 facilities in 12 countries and about 6,000 employees.

The venture, expected to be finalized by the end of the first quarter of 2007, will be majority owned by Orkla and operated by Sapa. The company said it planned to eventually hold an initial public offering for the combined entity.

The plant closings and consolidations are expected to save Alcoa about $125 million annually before taxes, according to the company.

"Through the first three quarters of 2006, we have generated more earnings than in any full year in our company's history," said Alain Belda, Alcoa's chairman and chief executive. "And in order to continue to move forward, we now need to take the difficult but necessary restructuring steps that will continue to maximize profitability across the company."

The restructuring includes changes affecting the company's can sheet operations that will result in a facility being closed in Swansea, Britain, and the elimination of about 320 positions. Alcoa notified those workers of the closure Tuesday, spokesman Kevin Lowery said.

About 370 positions will be cut in the U.S. and Europe through the restructuring of Alcoa's global hard alloy extrusion production operations, which serve the aerospace, automotive and industrial products markets.

Restructuring and consolidation of the company's automotive and light vehicle wire harness and component operations will affect more than 4,800 jobs.

That includes closing the manufacturing operations of its AFL Seixal plant in Portugal and the restructuring of the AFL light vehicle and component operations in the U.S. and Mexico.

Alcoa said its packaging production operations also would be affected, with the elimination of 470 positions, and its primary metals and alumina operations would be trimmed by 330 positions.

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