Alcoa, the largest US aluminum company, said Monday it would split itself into two companies as it battles lower metals prices and seeks to maximize value for its investors.
Alcoa said it would become two independent, publicly traded companies, one focused on upstream mining and smelting and the other on manufacturing aluminum products to supply industries including aerospace and auto manufacturing.
"In the last few years, we have successfully transformed Alcoa to create two strong value engines that are now ready to pursue their own distinctive strategic directions," said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa chairman and chief executive, in a statement.
After the separation, the new upstream company, which will retain the name Alcoa, will have five business units dealing with bauxite mining, alumina refining and aluminum production in 64 facilities worldwide. It will have a workforce of some 17,000.
The downstream manufacturing unit, to be named after the separation, will aim at fast-growing markets such as the aerospace industry, supplying rolled and engineering products for aircraft and jet engine manufacturing. The company will operate in 157 locations globally with 43,000 employees.
The plan, approved by the board of directors, is expected to be finalized in the second half of 2016, Alcoa said. It said it was structured as a US tax-free transaction to Alcoa shareholders, who will own all outstanding shares of the two companies.
Kleinfeld will lead the downstream manufacturing company as chairman and CEO, and serve as chairman for the upstream Alcoa for its initial phase.
Demand for Alcoa manufactured products for airplanes and cars has been strong, but the company has been pummeled by lower aluminum prices. Aluminum prices have lost nearly 40 percent in the past four years, and 25 percent over the past 12 months.
For the second quarter, Alcoa reported a small rise in earnings to $140 million, weighed down by the fall in aluminum prices.
Shares in Alcoa jumped 4.3 percent at $9.46 in opening trade.