“Vigorous support and clear guidelines”

Within a period of 10 years, the Plansee Group has acquired holdings with a transaction value of 800 million euros. Dr. Michael Schwarzkopf talks about the strategic aims.

livingmetals: One of the Plansee Group’s aims is to grow profitably and do so faster than its competitors. What does that actually mean?

Dr. Michael Schwarzkopf: First of all we must ask ourselves the key question of what direction we want to take as a group. The answer to this question is quite clear: We want to be a leading supplier of the materials molybdenum and tungsten– throughout the whole value added chain. That means, from the processing of the ore concentrate and recycling through to the products that our customers can either install directly or transform for their own ends. The second question is: At what points in the value added chain can we improve or strengthen our position. On the basis of this analysis, we first consider whether we can do this using our own resources, for example through investments in capacity or in the development of new products and solutions. If strategic measures seem to make more sense, we acquire other companies. No matter whether we are talking about investments, acquisitions
or innovations – every project focuses on increasing the value and ensuring the long-term development of the Plansee Group.

livingmetals: When Plansee buys – who are we looking for?

Dr. Michael Schwarzkopf: Acquisitions make strategic sense for us when they allow us to extend our leading position in one of our current total of 16 business areas. Experience shows: Privately-owned companies whose activities are closely related to our own core business can be particularly well integrated. In such cases, we attempt to acquire majority holdings in which we play the leading industrial role.

livingmetals: Why should a company that has previously been independent become a part of the Plansee Group?

Dr. Michael Schwarzkopf: We follow the best-owner principle. The businesses we acquire should feel that they are in good hands in the Plansee Group and have long-term development potentials thanks to their clear strategic positioning. Key criteria for our partners often include security regarding the continued management of the company, the transition from a locally restricted to a global market, or access to attractive input materials, products and technologies. Our holdings also benefit from the fact that they receive genuine support – with investments, in management decisionmaking, as well as with functioning HR, IT and compliance systems. However, there are also clear rules: one of the first steps during integration is usually to incorporate the company in our global IT network and our reporting structure.

livingmetals: What is the Plansee Group’s image of itself?

Dr. Michael Schwarzkopf: We see ourselves as a source of strategic impetus, as a committed, long-term financial and development partner and as an advocate of transparency and responsible corporate leadership. What is more, for many of our employees – and in particular those from smaller businesses – we are a source of exciting career opportunities. And we consider our consistent policy of delegating responsibility to be a competitive advantage. This means that our holdings have the greatest possible freedom of action in their everyday operations. The better the numbers, the greater the freedom.

Growth through acquisitions

Over the last ten years, the Plansee Group has acquired companies and holdings with a transaction value of 800 million euros. This has allowed the group to significantly expand its value added chain: The supply of the raw materials tungsten and molybdenum has been secured as part of the policy of backward integration. In addition, the manufacture of hardmetal products and solutions has been extended.

Here are a few examples:
Global Tungsten & Powders (GTP), Towanda/USA

Acquired: 2008
Logic: The Plansee Group’s tungsten powder specialist. Purchases raw materials from mines based in the Western hemisphere. Manufactures tungsten powder and tungsten carbide for hard metal production from tungsten ore concentrate and secondary raw materials.

Tikomet, Jyväskylä/Finland
Acquired: 2015
Logic: Prepares high-quality tungsten secondary materials using the zinc process. Complements the chemical recycling process that has been used successfully at GTP for decades.

Molymet, Santiago/Chile
Acquisition: gradual since 2011 to the current 20 percent
Logic: The molybdenum powder specialist. Manufactures molybdenum trioxide for the Plansee Group and alloys for the steel industry from molybdenum ore concentrate.

CB Ceratizit, Taiwan/China
Holding: Joint venture with Ceratizit 2010
Logic: Uses attractively priced Chinese raw materials to manufacture carbide rods and wear parts for the Asian and American markets.

Günther Wirth, Balzheim/Germany
Promax Tools, Rancho Cordova/USA
Klenk, Balzheim/Germany
Cobra Carbide, Bangalore/India

Acquired: 2012 – 2015
Logic: Standard and special solid carbide tools for drilling, milling and abrasive applications throughout the manufacturing industry, as well as special solutions, for example for the aviation industry.

Wolfra Tech, Mysore/India, now Plansee India
Acquired: 2011
Logic: Competence center for molybdenum and tungsten fine wire. Competitive manufacturing of workintensive products.

TCB, Seoul/Korea, now Plansee Korea
Acquired: 2012
Logic: Bonding as the final, locally performed production step before Plansee’s coating materials are applied in its customers’ coating plants.

A broad-based industrial group In the Plansee Group, everything revolves around the materials molybdenum and tungsten – from the ore concentrate through to the finished product. When all the Plansee Group holdings are added together, the last reported total sales were 2.2 billion euros. The workforce worldwide numbers 11,900 employees. At the consolidated level, the Plansee Group achieved sales of 1.18 billion euros in the last fiscal year and employed 6,371 people.