ThyssenKrupp to delay start of Alabama plant

Published 11:35 am Friday, January 23, 2009

ThyssenKrupp will delay the planned start of stainless steel production at a $4 billion plant in Alabama, the Germany corporation’s CEO said Friday.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, Ekkehard Schulz did not estimate how long the delay might last, but said the precipitous drop in demand was the worst he had seen in his 40-year career.

“We will set and evaluate priorities, whether it makes more sense to move some investments to a later date,” Schulz said. He added that production at the plant near Mobile, Ala., would definitely start later than planned.

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Schulz said Bochum-based ThyssenKrupp was considering overtime cutbacks and shorter working hours among other measures to help it adjust production to flagging demand.

Even with those adjustments, Schulz said the unprecedented economic instability meant he could not rule out “significant cuts” in personnel.

He said the company expected its high-grade steel division to post a loss at the outset of the fiscal year.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said the announcement of a delay is “disappointing but understandable given current economic conditions.”

“There are about 2,000 people working to build the plant now and that’s expected to grow to 10,000 in the next six months,” Riley said. “Alabama is incredibly excited about ThyssenKrupp and the thousands of new jobs the company will create in our state.”

The plant is to employ about 2,700 workers when it is fully operational.