1896–1929: The big company Gränges

The Swedish ore and the railways were of continued great political interest, and in 1907 Gränges sold half of the ore operations (LKAB) in an agreement with the Swedish state, but Gränges would continue to be responsible for the operations.

In 1917, Gränges started operations in Oxelösunds Jernverk, just over 100 km south of Stockholm. Through a good port location, the steelworks could easily play different suppliers against each other, compared to before when the plants were often located near the mines. Oxelösund was also better located than Luleå and Narvik for the ore transports that were sent to customers in the German Rhur area.

Gränges experienced strong economic growth until the outbreak of the First World War, and then ended up in a waiting situation during the war due to stopped transports. It was a generally tough climate in the country during these years with inflation and poverty as a result. When the war was over, the expected growth did not materialize, and the country was instead dragged into a deflationary spiral in the early 1920s with several difficult years as a result.

When the economy slowly improved and the banks began to sell shares again, few had the resources to participate in the sale. Among them, the financier Ivar Kreuger played in his own league with the cautious speculator Marcus Wallenberg as the only competitor. In 1920, Ivar Kreuger was elected to Gränges' board. Gränges was currently the most traded share in Stockholm. In 1929, Ivar Kreuger controlled a full 22 percent of the shares in Gränges.

In parallel with Gränges' establishment as a large company in Sweden, Finspongs Metallverk had started manufacturing rolled aluminium products on a small scale. Early on, an owned laboratory was established to develop alloys and production technology, and when the Swedish government wanted to invest in fighter aircraft, Finspång was the natural partner. In 1936, the rolling mill was expanded to handle deliveries of aircraft sheet metal to the newly started company Saab in Linköping. Aluminium for aircraft later became an important power factor during World War II, when a large part of the fighting was fought in the air.

Image: The harbor in Oxelösund in 1899. Image from the Technical Museum.