Alcoa moving its headquarters back home to Pittsburgh

Alcoa, which officially relocated its headquarters from its hometown to New York in 2006, is coming home.

The 129-year-old aluminum producer announced Wednesday it will relocate 10 employees from its current Park Avenue headquarters to its Isabella Street offices on the North Shore, effective Sept. 1.

The relocation, along with consolidating seven other administrative offices around the globe over the next 18 months, is expected to generate annual savings of $5 million once it is implemented.

Another five employees who currently work in the New York office will work from home, an Alcoa spokeswoman said.

Alcoa has about 205 employees and contractors in it is North Shore office. It shares the building with Arconic, the company created in November when Alcoa separated its mining, refining and aluminum businesses from downstream businesses that produce aluminum and titanium parts for the aerospace, automotive and other industries.

Another 40 employees and contractors work at Alcoa’s technical center in Westmoreland County.

Alcoa returns to Pittsburgh as it faces relentless pressure from low-cost producers, including heavily subsidized competitors in China. Higher aluminum prices are expected to bolster its bottom line when the company reports first quarter results Monday. Analysts are forecasting per share profits of 56 cents on revenue of $3 billion.

Alcoa was founded on Smallman Street in 1888. With financing from Mellon Bank and management expertise from Capt. Alfred E. Hunt, the aluminum maker became one of the linchpins of Pittsburgh’s industrial prowess.

In 1953, it moved to an aluminum-clad headquarters on William Penn Place from which it supervised its operations around the world.

The aluminum maker signed a 20-year lease at the fashionable Lever House in New York in 1999 during the tenure of former chairman and CEO Alain Belda. At first, the company did not describe the new office as its headquarters, but only as a place where a small number of executives could work when they were in the Big Apple.

The relocation gave the company better airline connections to its global operations as well as more immediate access to investment bankers, analysts, merger and acquisition specialists and other resources that global companies rely on.

There also was speculation that New York better suited the tastes of Mr. Belda, Alcoa’s first non-American CEO. The Brazilian executive’s cultural and social preferences resided in New York.

The headquarters designation became official in 2006, in a one-sentence notice buried in an annual report Alcoa filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The disclosure indicated the company’s by-laws had been amended “to specify that the principal office of the company shall be in the City of New York rather than Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

At the time, about 60 people worked at the New York headquarters and nearly 2,000 were employed in the Pittsburgh region.


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