Alcoa CEO says aluminum producer rejuvenated by split

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Alcoa CEO Roy C. Harvey told shareholders Wednesday that the aluminum producer’s separation from the company’s downstream businesses in November re-energized the 129-year-old company.

“It gave us an opportunity to rethink everything,” Mr. Harvey said at Alcoa’s shareholder meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

“We’re a start-up. We’re a brand new business,” he said.

Mr. Harvey said the company’s plans to consolidate administrative offices — which includes moving its headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York later this year — will save money and help employees work more closely together.

Shareholders approved the election of 12 directors to one-year terms and Alcoa’s executive pay policies, and voted to hold the nonbinding shareholder vote on executive pay annually.

Mr. Harvey had only one question from the audience of about 70 shareholders and employees. It came from a retired employee who wanted to know why Alcoa is selling bauxite, the ore that is refined into aluminum, to the Chinese.

Chinese aluminum producers are driving down the price of aluminum, which hurts Alcoa’s aluminum business, the shareholder pointed out.

Mr. Harvey said plenty of other bauxite miners are willing to sell to the Chinese and their operations are not as environmentally friendly as Alcoa’s.

“They will get their bauxite no matter what,” he told the shareholder.

Mr. Harvey also said that it is a good margin business and that Alcoa may not be able to sell the bauxite to other customers before its right to mine the ore expires. Alcoa is mindful of the concerns about supplying the Chinese, he said.

“We will be very careful about growing that business,” Mr. Harvey said.

In November, Alcoa broke into two companies. The mining, refining and smelting businesses maintained the Alcoa name while the businesses that make aluminum and titanium parts for the aerospace, automotive and other industries became Arconic.

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