Alumax Bath Enclosures Included in U.S., Scandinavian Deal

By Tami Faram

The Arkansas bath enclosure company, Alumax, is under new management. In a "joint venture" agreement between Orkla, Oslo, Norway, and U.S. aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, which has owned Alumax since 1998, the two companies have merged their soft alloy extrusion efforts. Part of that agreement is the formation of a company called the Sapa Group, which is headquartered in Sweden. Sapa currently manages production facilities in 18 countries, including the Alumax bath and shower company in Magnolia, Ark.

"Our soft alloy extrusion companies have struggled in the past, but recently have made a pretty good improvement," says Kevin Lowery, vice president of communications for Alcoa. He says that although Alcoa has agreed to a 60-40 percent split in Alumax, with Sapa having the bigger piece of the Alumax pie, Alcoa still maintains ownership and the Alumax branding. Lowery adds that "at some point" the Orkla-Alcoa agreement may come up for public auction as an IPO.

Alumax representatives have not responded to our calls, but a Sapa representative did tell USGNN that Alumax Bath Enclosures by Sapa is sure to benefit from the global deal.

"In Sapa it is business as usual," says Gabriella Ekelund, spokesperson for the Sapa Group. "Sapa is now an even stronger partner continuing to deliver excellent service and flexibility," she says.

"Sapa and Alcoa are two very complementary businesses. This creates additional opportunities to serve our customers all over the world with our combined resources."

According to the information provided, under the Okla-Alcoa deal, Okla Aluminum Extrusion oversees the business area that comprises all Sapa's operations in the field of aluminum profiles, building systems and heat exchangers. Sapa's aluminum profiles business also is being merged with that of Alcoa. Orkla is the majority shareholder in the merged company, and Alcoa has given notice that, over time, it intends to cease operating in this area.

Tami Faram is the assistant editor of™/USGlass Magazine.