Firth Rixson deal ‘made in heaven’

Firth Rixson products from left: a seamless rolled ring, an extruded forging and a closed die forging.
Firth Rixson products from left: a seamless rolled ring, an extruded forging and a closed die forging.
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Alcoa’s impending purchase of Firth Rixson for £1.67billion has been welcomed by the leader of Sheffield Chamber - who hailed it “a match made in heaven”.

Richard Wright said the news looked good for both companies.

He added: “On the face of it this looks like a good thing for Firth Rixson. Oak Hill Partners have done a great job but there is always the feeling that they will want to ​crystallise their investment. I’m hopeful that Alcoa will be in this for the long term because you can see the synergies between the two businesses.

“Alcoa dig the alloys out of the ground and Firth Rixson convert them into products for aerospace, automotive, medical and oil & gas. Sounds like a match made in heaven!”

Firth Rixson says after a decade of expansion, in which annual turnover has passed £600million, it needs a partner for the next stage of growth.

Chief financial officer Peter Bland told The Star he could not speculate about the number of new jobs the deal could create. But Alcoa is targeting 12 per cent a year sales growth at Firth Rixson to 2019.

Alcoa is the world’s third largest producer of aluminium and wants to grow its aerospace operations.

Chairman Klaus Kleinfeld, said: “This will bring together some of the greatest innovators in jet engine component technology; it will significantly expand our market leadership and growth potential and it increases the earnings power and market reach of our high-value aerospace portfolio and deliver value for customers and shareholders.”

Any investment will also strengthen South Yorkshire’s aerospace reputation.

Rolls Royce - a Firth Rixson customer - has just started operations at a giant blade casting factory at the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe in Rotherham.

On the same site, the AMRC with Boeing is a world-renowned research centre which has several aerospace Tier One partners who pay £200,000-a-year including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems and Messier Bugatti Dowty.