Sapa AB

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Sapa AB

Box 5505
Stockholm, S-114 85
Telephone: (46 08) 459 59 00
Fax: (46 08) 459 59 50
Web site:

Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Orkla ASA
Incorporated: 1963
Employees: 7,295
Sales: SEK 14.54 billion ($1.99 billion) (2005)
NAIC: 331315 Aluminum Sheet, Plate, and Foil Manufacturing; 331312 Primary Aluminum Production; 331319 Other Aluminum Rolling and Drawing; 331521 Aluminum Die-Castings; 331524 Aluminum Foundries; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies

Sapa AB is one of the world's top three producers of extruded aluminum profiles for the building systems, automotive, mass transportation, telecommunications, heat transfer, and other markets. The company operates on a global level, with subsidiaries in 26 countries, and production units throughout Europe and in the United States and China. Sapa's operations are grouped into three primary divisions: Profiles; Building Systems; and Heat Transfer. Profiles, including products for the construction, automotive, appliance, retail and other markets, is the company's largest division, posting 63 percent of its revenues of more than SEK 14.5 billion ($2 billion) in 2005. Building Systems, which produces window and door profiles and other fittings for the construction industry, contributed 20 percent to the company's revenues, and Heat Transfer, which produces aluminum grills for automotive radiators and other applications, added 17 percent to the company's turnover. Scandinavia remains an important market for the Sweden-based company, at 19 percent of group sales; the United Kingdom adds 12 percent to group sales, and the rest of Western Europe accounts for nearly 45 percent of annual revenues. The company is also active in the North American (12 percent) and Eastern European (8 percent) markets. Asia and the rest of the world add just 5 percent to group sales. Although founded in 1963, Sapa evolved as much from former Electrolux subsidiary Gränges, itself founded in 1896. Sapa has been wholly owned by Orkla ASA since 2005. Ole Enger is the company's chairman.


The modern Sapa dated its founding to 1963, when two Swedish entrepreneurs founded a company in Vetlanda, Sweden in order to produce extruded aluminum profiles. The pair had spent time in the United States, where they had recognized the potential of the newly evolving manufacturing process, and returned to Sweden to establish their own business. The relatively small size of the Swedish market, and the presence of a number of larger, existing players in Sweden led the company to seek an international market almost from the start. By 1964, Sapa had signed on sales agents in Norway and Denmark, and by 1966 had added sales representation in England as well.

As it geared up to launch sales of its manufactured profiles in 1967, the company invested in its production capacity. The company commissioned an anodizing plant in Vetlanda in 1965, and by 1968 had added a second press and anodizing facility in Vetlanda. The new facility provided the company with the capability of producing profiles as long as 12 meters. The success of the group's sales effort, in the meantime, encouraged it to open a full-fledged office in England in 1969. The following year, the company entered the building systems market, producing its Sapa Spont product. The company's fast growth attracted a new partner in Finland's Nokia, and in 1970 the two companies set up a joint venture in the Netherlands, called Nordalex (later Scandex).

The joint venture paved the way for the opening of the company's first international production subsidiary, with the construction of an extrusion plant in the Netherlands in 1971. Also in that year, Sapa added a remelting plant to its Vetlanda site. By 1972, the company had set up its own die manufacturing plant as well.

Sapa continued to build up its international operations through the first half of the decade. The company added its second foreign site with the construction of a plant in Tibshelf, England. Sales offices also were added in Switzerland, Finland, and Norway during this time. By 1975, the company was able to add a new production site in Sweden, building a plant in Torsby.

Sapa's strong growth attracted the attention of larger rival Gränges, which acquired the Vetlanda company in 1976. Gränges, founded in 1896, had become one of Sweden's largest conglomerates by the 1970s, with interests ranging from shipping and railroads to mining, steel, and engineering. Gränges had entered the aluminum extrusion sector in 1969 with the purchase of Svenska Metallverken, one of the Swedish pioneers in the aluminum industry.


The addition of Svenska Metallverken, and the economic crisis brought on by the Arab Oil Embargo, encouraged Gränges to adopt a new strategy focusing on aluminum as its core operation. The company began by spinning off its other operations, and then boosted its aluminum holdings through the 1976 takeover of Sapa.

Gränges expanded its aluminum presence strongly through the next decade. In 1976 the company added new production facilities in Finspang and Skutuna, Sweden, and then expanded its Tibshelf, England facility with a new press setup and a remelting plant, installed in 1978. This was followed by the construction of a new 4,400-square-meter factory and anodizing plant near Tibshelf, in 1980.

In that year, Gränges itself was acquired by Sweden's massive Electrolux Group. Backing from its new parent allowed the company to maintain its steady expansion, including the creation of a factory in Denmark, and the acquisition of Germany's Aluminiumwerk Offenburg, completed in 1984. The following year, the company took full control of the Scandex joint venture in the Netherlands. In 1986, the company added the recycling operations of Gotthard Nilsson, and by the end of the decade, the company had added a foil mill in Luxembourg and a distribution operation based in Righton, England.

Gränges' Sapa subsidiary continued building up the group's extruded aluminum business as well, opening a plant in Trzcianka, Poland in 1992. Two years later, the company added an anodizing line there, becoming the second largest producer of aluminum profiles in the growing Polish market. By then, the company had expanded into France, acquiring a profile maker there in 1993.

Electrolux launched a restructuring effort in the early 1990s in order to refocus its operations around its core appliance and outdoor products divisions. In 1994, the company announced its intention to spin off Gränges as an independent, publicly listed company. Poor market conditions forced Electrolux to put the plan on hold, however.


Business concept. To offer the market innovative, value-enhancing solutions based on profiles and strip in the lightweight material aluminium. Strategy. Sapa shall be perceived as the most attractive partner through a combination of innovation, business know-how and cost effectiveness. Profitable growth shall be achieved by co-operating closely with customers to develop new applications and create added value. Cost and capital efficiency in all aspects of operations will secure Sapa's competitiveness. Good organic growth is complemented by strategic acquisitions of companies that further strengthen our market positions.

Instead, Gränges focused its own efforts on building up its Sapa subsidiary. In 1996, the company bought Breden Group, based in England, a purchase that doubled Sapa's market share there to 20 percent. Bredon added its Indalex extrusion subsidiary, as well as Glostal, a producer of window and door products. Also that year, Gränges moved into mainland China, forming a joint venture to produce aluminum heat exchangers for the auto industry. This venture was to become an important component of the later Sapa.


Electrolux finally made good on its plans to spin off Gränges in 1997, when the company was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Gränges then launched a restructuring designed to refocus the company around its Sapa extrusion business as its core. Gränges then began selling off its noncore operations, starting with its U.K. metals distribution business in 1997. In 2001, the company completed its restructuring in large part, shedding its Eurofoil aluminum foil operation and its plastics operations as well. By then, the company had adopted a new identity, becoming Sapa AB in 2000.

The refocused Sapa set out to raise itself among the ranks of the world's top aluminum profiles producers, with strong operations in building systems and heat transfer systems. The company gained a leading place in the French market in 1999 through the acquisitions of Intexalu, the largest independent profiles business in that market, and Aluvar, a major producer of building systems. The company also launched plans to build a new factory in Lodz, Poland, that year.

Sapa entered the U.S. market in 2000, buying Anodizing, Inc., based in Portland, Oregon. That company, founded in 1964, was the largest extruder operating on the West Coast, and helped raise Sapa's total capacity to 280,000 tons per year. The United States, and the North American market in general, quickly grew into an important market for Sapa, representing more than 10 percent of its annual sales by mid-decade.

Europe remained a company focus, however, as Sapa grew into the continent's third largest profiles producer by the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. In the United Kingdom, the company added to its presence with the acquisition of high-value-added profiles producer Pressweld, which focused on the automotive industry. Also that year, the company made plans to open a series of new offices in markets such as China, the Czech Republic, and Spain. By 2003, the company had added a new subsidiary in China as well, launching Sapa Profiles (Shanghai) Ltd.

Meanwhile, the company was completing a new major acquisition in Europe, paying EUR 75 million to acquire a 55 percent stake in Remi Claeys Aluminium N.V. That company added sales of nearly EUR 300 million to Sapa, and operations throughout the Benelux market, as well as in Germany and France.

Sapa also sought to boost its presence in the Eastern European market, and in 2003 the company founded a new subsidiary in Lithuania, called UAB Sapa Profiliai. The Kaunas-based factory then launched production of aluminum profiles. By 2006, Sapa had located a new expansion target in the region, buying Slovakia's Alufinal. That purchase also strengthened Sapa's position in the Czech Republic.


Gränges is founded as Trafikaktiebolaget Grangesberg-Oxelosund (TGO) in Sweden.
Svenska Metallverken pioneers production of extruded aluminum profiles in Sweden.
Sapa is created to produce extruded aluminum profiles in Vetlanda.
Gränges acquires Svenska Metallverken.
Gränges acquires Sapa.
Electrolux acquires Gränges.
Electrolux spins off Gränges in an IPO; Gränges launches a restructuring to focus around its core Sapa operations.
Gränges changes its name to Sapa; Sapa enters the U.S. market with the acquisition of Anodizing Inc. in Portland, Oregon.
Sapa acquires Pressweld in England.
New production subsidiaries are launched in Shanghai and Lithuania.
Orkla acquires full control of Sapa, which is delisted from the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
Sapa acquires Alufinal of Slovakia.

By then, Sapa itself had found new owners. In 2002, Norway's Elkem acquired majority control of Sapa, boosting its stake to more than 71 percent by the end of that year. Elkem itself was controlled by industrial giant Orkla ASA, with a 50.3 percent stake, and aluminum leader Alcoa, which held 46.6 percent of Elkem. In 2005, however, Orkla increased its stake in Elkem, trig-gering a mandatory takeover offer for Sapa. Following the acquisition, Sapa was delisted from the stock exchange. With backing from a new and financially powerful parent company, Sapa expected to continue its quest to become the world's leading aluminum profiles producer in the new century.

M. L. Cohen


Cuprocimique N.V. (Belgium); Feridale Ltd. (Ireland); Finspongs Metallverks AB; Fintuna AB; Gränges AB; Gränges Holding (Netherlands) B.V.; Greyflag Ltd. (Ireland); Lords Agriculture Machinery Ltd. (United Kingdom); Remi Claeys Aluminium N.V. (Belgium); Sapa Aluminium Profile AG (Switzerland); Sapa Aluminium Sp. z.o.o. (Poland); Sapa Building System AB; Sapa Building System GmbH (Germany); Sapa Building System Vertriebs GmbH (Austria); Sapa France S.A.; Sapa Heat Transfer (Shanghai) Ltd.; Sapa Holdings AB; Sapa Inc. (United States); Sapa North America Inc. (United States); Sapa Portugal S.A.


MAN AG; Southwest Aluminium (Group) Company Ltd.; Amcor Rentsch Europe; Novelis Inc.; Nippon Light Metal Company Ltd.; Aluminum Corporation of China; Helwan Non-Ferrous Metals Industries; Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria Ltd.; Hydro Aluminium Deutschland GmbH; Pactiv Corporation; Hunter Douglas N.V.


Back, Brian J., "Swedish Firm Buys Anodizing, Major Extruder and Employer," Business Journal Portland, August 18, 2000, p. 9.

"Elkem to Buy Sapa with the Help of Its Relationship Banks," Euroweek, August 2, 2002, p. 32.

"First Goal of Presezzi Extrusion in Sapa Group," Aluminium International Today, MarchApril 2004, p. 51.

"Growing and Competing: Sapa Shapes Its Future," Aluminum Today, December 2000, p. 21.

"Investment in Elegance," Glass Age, February 10, 2006, p. 55.

Lesser, Chris, "Sapa Throws Global Weight Behind Bicycles," Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, August 1, 2005, p. 1.

Mellgren, Doug, "Orkla Bids for Sweden's Sapa," AP Worldstream, February 10, 2005.

"Sapa Expansion Plans," Dagens Industri, November 22, 2004, p. 24.

"Sapa Group Invests SEK70m in New Paint Plant in France," Nordic Business Report, September 6, 2006.

"Sapa in a Strong Position," Glass Age, February 10, 2005, p. 53.

"Sapa to Transform in UK," Glass Age, April 28, 2004, p. 5.