Alcan, the Canada-based beverage can manufacturer, has sold its 72-year-old research centre in Britain as the company makes further moves to consolidate its operations and prop up profits, according to Canadian publication the Financial Post.
Since Travis Engen took over as chief executive 18 months ago, the world's second-biggest aluminium group has shed non-core operations which have included its glass packaging business, in a move that has cut the group's work force by over 2,000.
"The Engen team's footprint is clear in Alcan's new way of valuing non-performing units," said one analyst who remained anonymous. "The restructuring is not over."
The 100 workers from the Banbury, England, research facility will be shifted to Alcan's Kingston, Ontario, centre, which specialises in rolling technology, and to another centre in Switzerland, which focuses on packaging.
Alcan currently has a third research centre is in Quebec, Canada.
"We need long-term product and process innovation and this will give us critical mass in our research," Engen said in a statement.
In the meantime, Alcan and its partners have delayed the final decision on the $1.4 billion (€1.43bn) Alouette smelter expansion at its Quebec facility, for several weeks. Alcan owns 40 per cent of Alouette, Norsk Hydro holds 20 per cent, Austria Metal 20 per cent, Marubeni 6.7 per cent and the Quebec government 13.3 per cent.
Alcan would not comment on reports the consortium is worried about surging global primary aluminum capacity and sagging demand in North America and Europe. The final decision was supposed to have been made last week.