1997–2020: The return of Gränges
In 1996, Gränges was on its way to the stock exchange again, but financial turmoil in Asia meant that the business was instead spun off to Electrolux owners in 1997. The new Gränges consisted mainly of operations in aluminium profiles and rolled aluminium. The leading Sapa in Vetlanda was soon given the name of the entire group, while the band and foil became Heat Transfer.
Slightly more than half of the Group's sales came from aluminium profiles, with manufacturing facilities around Europe. The profiles were profitable and accounted for most of the profits. Tape and foil - with Finspång Aluminium and Eurofoil - was the second largest business unit with about a quarter of the sales. Finspång was now one of the world's leading manufacturers of aluminium strips for heat exchangers in cars. Eurofoil, which had been acquired in 1989, was Europe's second largest producer of aluminium foil and mainly supplied the packaging industry.
A few years before the turn of the millennium, Gränges had decided to invest wholeheartedly in thin belts for heat exchangers, after Eurofoil was divested. After a study trip to China, Stig Brehmer became a driving force in establishing operations in the country, as one of the first foreign companies. This decision would prove to be enormously successful. The investment was made in the Jiading district outside Shanghai, which was then agricultural land. With the help of knowledge transfer from Finspång, equipment from Italy and a team of technicians from China, the new rolling mill was completed in 1999. Gränges was thus only in place when the car market began to gain momentum in the country in 2001. China operations were also crucial for Gränges to be able to enter the stock exchange in 2014. The successes in China are explained by a combination of good leadership and a strong corporate culture. Torbjörn Sternsjö led the business in its early stages and was succeeded by Johan Menckel.
In 2005, Gränges, then called Sapa, was bought out of the stock exchange by Norwegian Orkla. When Orkla adopted a new focus a few years later and wanted to streamline operations, the aluminium business ended up on the sales list again. In October 2014, Gränges re-entered the Stockholm Stock Exchange, but now as a pure niche player in rolled thin strips for heat exchangers under the name Gränges.
The growth strategy was clear for the new listed Gränges. The lack of in-house production on the North American continent was a disadvantage in the negotiations with the company's global customers. When the opportunity to acquire Noranda's rolling mills in the southeastern United States appeared in 2016, Gränges was well prepared. With the deal, Gränges became more than twice as large and acquired the important presence on the other side of the Atlantic.
In 2020, it was time for another acquisition. Aluminium Konin in Poland had long been the eye of Gränges, and when the main owner wanted to rearrange the portfolio, an excellent opportunity arose for Gränges to increase its capacity in Europe and broaden its product portfolio.
Since the listing on the stock exchange in 2014, Gränges has increased sales from SEK 5 billion to SEK 11 billion, and including Konin, that figure is expected to increase further to SEK 14 billion. Anyone who invested a penny in Gränges shares in the IPO in 2014 has at the same time received a good dividend, over 100 percent return over six years if the dividend is included.
Image: Gränges' CEO Johan Menckel at the IPO at Nasdaq Stockholm in 2014. Photo: Christian Gustafsson.