If someone ten years earlier had predicted that the vacuum cleaner and white goods company Electrolux would soon take over and dismantle Sweden’s perhaps most respected company Gränges, this would have immediately been dismissed as a bad joke. Electrolux was, almost no matter how measured, only a third as large and had almost nothing in common with Gränges.
Director Hans Werthén from LM Ericsson, who had been commissioned to rescue the problem company Electrolux a couple of years earlier, succeeded in 1980 in getting a bid for Gränges on behalf of Electrolux. Gränges had been hit hard by the industrial crisis and needed major restructuring. As early as 1976, SSAB had been formed, by Gränges and Stora Kopparberg merging their steelworks and the Swedish state became the guarantor and half-owner.
Under Electrolux's ownership, a large sale of Gränges operations started. First, the power assets were sold for just over SEK 1 billion, a deal that was surprising because the operations had not had any major economic value. The large devaluation of the Swedish krona in 1982, which entailed both lower prices and wage costs relative to other countries, increased the value of the operations.
In 1986, the copper business was sold to the Finnish Outokumpu. Remaining in Gränges were the aluminium operations, Gränges Weda, which would later become the global group Autoliv, and Lamco, the project in Liberia. For Electrolux, the sales meant money for expansion.
Image: A group of journalists at a nature conservation conference at Gränges Aluminum in 1972. Image from Sundsvalls Museum. Photo: Tore Persson/Norrlandsbild.