May 8, 2019 / 5:53 AM / a year ago

New Norsk Hydro CEO to focus on profitability, review rolled products division

OSLO, May 8 (Reuters) - The incoming chief executive of Norsk Hydro will focus on improving the aluminium producer’s profitability, aiming to present an improvement plan in the third quarter and review its rolled products division, the firm said on Wednesday.

Hilde Merete Aasheim, previously the head of Hydro’s primary metal division, on Wednesday takes over from Svein Richard Brandtzaeg as Hydro’s new top executive.

“We will increase our ambitions on operational excellence and ensure stricter financial discipline going forward, and we will explore all options to improve earnings from Rolled Products for the future,” Aasheim said in a statement.

Rolled products are large aluminium sheets used in the automotive, construction and packaging industries, among others.

Chief Financial Officer Eivind Kallevik will replace Aasheim as head of Hydro’s primary metal division. Paal Kildemo, currently head of finance in that same division, will become CFO. These changes will be effective on Aug. 15.

Hydro’s Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil, a key supplier to the global aluminium industry, is operating at half capacity following a spill in February 2018 that led regulators and courts to restrict the plant’s output.

Aasheim reiterated on Wednesday the plant must be returned to full production as soon as possible to allow for normal operations in Brazil.

Resumption of full output at Alunorte, though, is dependent on a decision by a Brazilian federal court, and it is unclear when that will come. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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