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Brandtzæg enthusiastic after go-round in Brazil

“My enthusiasm over the acquisition of Vale’s aluminium activities in Brazil certainly isn’t diminished after having been there and seen the facilities. It looks really good, and our goal is to make it even better,” says Hydro President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg after his first visit to Pará.

His enthusiasm appears to be mutual. Brandtzæg and his leadership team were received warmly and with enthusiasm when they met their new colleagues in the first days of March.

With more than 4,000 workers, Brazil is now on a par with Norway and Germany in number of employees. While Germany is the largest and most important single market and Norway has a long tradition in energy and aluminium production, Brazil has large supplies of the critical raw material bauxite – and many employees with the competence to extract and refine it.

Brandtzæg was joined by Johnny Undeli, who heads the new Bauxite & Alumina business area, Hilde Merete Aasheim, who leads Primary Metal, and other top Hydro managers in marking the occasion that the acquisition in Brazil was at last a reality.

From edge to core

What can Hydro’s new employees in Brazil expect now?

“Probably the biggest thing is that they will go from being a relatively small part of the overall picture in Vale to being an integrated part of Hydro’s core business. For us, Pará is one of the keys to our future development. We have secured both raw materials and the competence in bauxite at Paragominas, one of the world’s largest bauxite mines, and Alunorte, the world’s largest alumina refinery. In addition, we now have a majority stake in the very well-operated aluminium plant Albras.

Brandtzæg emphasizes that both management and the employees should be very pleased to have these activities now in Hydro.

Challenging each other

“We strongly believe in continuous improvement, and we see several areas where we can do even better. We’ll do this by working closely together," Brandtzæg says.

"In some areas, we undoubtedly have a lot to contribute, but we also have a great deal of respect for our colleagues in Brazil, who include highly competent professionals who know what they’re doing. So cooperation, determination and respect are important values here also. Challenging each other in an open and respectful cooperation could very well be the key to an important breakthrough.

“First and foremost, it will be important to concentrate on realizing the improvement potential in our new businesses. I see that we have solid competence and many capable employees on our team in Brazil. We have a good starting point. Now we’re going to bring all of our efforts to keep the improvements coming.”

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