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Interview in the economic newspaper Expansión to Ana Vázquez, VP Hydro Extrusion Iberia

Growth and commitment of Hydro in Spain and Portugal

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INDUSTRIAL COMPANIES / The Norwegian giant trusts in the potential of aluminum to replace other metals and materials such as plastic.

Iñaki de las heras, Madrid.

"Norsk Hydro has a clear commitment to our business in Spain. There is no doubt of concern. " Ana Vázquez, vice president of the company and general business director for Spain and Portugal, wonders about the level of commitment and the form of assistance in the industrial sector.

This is a company and a refuge from these trends, and is dedicated to our customers. It operates with the same material as Alcoa, but in a later stage of the process, extrusion, in the list of pieces to go on the market.

"Our forecast is to grow 10% accumulated in three years with respect to previous levels," says Vázquez. Norsk Hydro closed 2017 with a turnover of 279 million euros in Spain and has no plans to cut production or capacity in the country. Gone are the years of the crisis, in which "there were many cost adjustments and what was necessary to resist," she says.

Seven factories
The company is a leader in aluminum extrusion in Spain, a business that moves 1,500 million euros a year. It employs 800 people and has seven factories, two of them specialized in casting. "We closed the circle of recycling, an increasingly important activity and claimed by customers," she explains. About 20% of the production comes from scrap metal.

Its parent company, the Norwegian Norsk Hydro, is also the largest integrated aluminum group in the world. It has 35,000 employees and 150 production centers in 40 countries, in which it receives 11,500 million euros. At the end of 2017, Norsk Hydro bought Sapa its participation in the joint venture between both companies. The operation affected the Spanish plants, which have become 100% owned by the Norwegian group.

Among the improvements in activity in Spain is the expansion of the Santa Oliva plant in Tarragona, which has 80 workers. The goal is to triple the production of this complex in three years by manufacturing roof racks for delivery directly in the vehicle factories, including those of Seat in Martorell.

Unlike those of other multinationals, the Spanish plants of Hydro do not have to compete with those of the exterior to guarantee their survival. "They work mostly with local clients and do not have to fight to see which is more efficient with international clients," says Vázquez.

The company focuses its products on cars after the setback in construction

One of the keys to growth lies in the potential of aluminum as a mineral of the future. This metal stands out for its lightness, its conductivity, its resistance to corrosion and its malleability. It is used from building materials to in the bumpers of cars.

"There is an increasing presence of aluminum in all sectors," explains the company's first executive in the country. "It adapts very well to the electric car, where aluminum will have an exponential growth. It is also a substitute for materials such as plastic," she adds.

Of the 1,100 Norsk Hydro customers in Spain, the building and construction sector accounts for 40%, compared to 24% for the industry, 22% for the automotive industry and 14% for transport. While the construction goes backwards, the automotive industry gains weight.