Acciai Speciali Terni

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Acciai Speciali Terni
  • Metallurgy
  • Steel
  • IT and engineering sectors
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Acciai Speciali Terni SpA (also known as AST) is an Italian company operating in the metallurgy, steel, IT and engineering sectors. Founded in 1884, it kept the name of Terni blast furnace, foundry and steel mill company until 1922. Other subsequent names: Terni company for industry and electricity spa (1922 - 1984) and Terni special steel (1984 - 2001).

Since 1994 AST has been controlled by ThyssenKrupp AG and therefore the name has become ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni (TKAST).

Based in Terni and through subsidiaries and investee companies in Italy and abroad, it specializes in the processing and distribution of steels (stainless steel, low-alloy and carbon) mainly intended for the food, construction, household, household appliances, energy and basic, steel and mechanical industries.


From the foundation to the first world war

Advertising leaflet of the Terni High Furnace Foundries and Steelworks Society at the Universal Exposition in Paris, 1900.

The need to have a national steel industry was felt just after the unification of Italy and became even more pressing during the first Cairoli cabinet, when Admiral Benedetto Brin presented a bill for the construction of a steel center that could provide the steel needed for the armor of warships. In 1883 a second Commission of investigation on the state of the iron industries in Italy, after the one established during the first Depretis government, promoted by the Minister of the Navy, Admiral Ferdinando Acton and chaired by Admiral Benedetto Brin, chose Terni as the ideal location for the construction of a national steel plant. The commission's decision was dictated by three advantages that the Umbrian city offered compared to other sites: the existence of non-negligible plants, such as the Arms Factory, a factory for iron products and a cast iron foundry, which produced a fourth of cast iron pipes for aqueducts built in Italy; the considerable availability of water resources, estimated to be in the order of at least 150,000 horsepower and the strategic position of Terni, far from the coasts and, therefore, protected from any attacks from the sea. In addition, part of the share package of the cast iron foundry was in the hands of the Società Veneta Costruzioni Pubbliche, owned by Vincenzo Stefano Breda, a personal friend of Admiral Brin.

The steel mills in the early 1910s

On March 10, 1884, the founding deed of the Società degli Alti Forni e Fonderie di Terni (SAFFAT) was drawn up, with the guarantees of the State and the capital of some large credit institutions, such as Banca Generale, Credito Mobiliare and National Bank in the Kingdom of Italy. The construction of the plant began shortly after with the support of the workers of the French Schneider steelworks and with the dismantling and transfer of the ironworks in Mongiana. Completion was reached after two years and showed a complex of international importance. The company was privately owned, but linked to the Italian state by financing and contracts. Thanks to this support, in 1889 the steel production of the Society constituted half of the national one. In May of the same year, by ministerial decree, the Altiforni Company became the operator of the lignite mines of Spoleto, an exercise which it maintained until their closure in 1961.

Two Bessemer converters, five Martin-Siemens furnaces and five rolling mills could turn out both common steel, special steels for armor, guns and shells. The electricity needed was produced by a hydrodynamic system consisting of a penstock of just over 6 kilometers, which brought the Velino water into the industrial area after a difference in height of 200 meters. The pride of the plant was the large 108-ton hammer with a 1,000-ton under anvil cast in a single block, a unique example for the metallurgy of the time.

Initially Breda had foreseen that SAFFAT was part of an integrated system of steel and cast iron production on a national scale, but the economic difficulties deriving from the huge costs for plant engineering, oversized compared to the real volume of orders, led the company to bankruptcy, which was avoided thanks to the shelves of the banks, the state orders and the spin-off of the common steels diverted to the Tardy & Benech Steelworks in Savona, taken over in 1891. The settlement of Credito Mobiliare and Banca Generale between 1893 and 1894 induced the Bank of Italy to intervene in exchange for a complete corporate reorganization, which took place after SAFFAT was admitted to stock market prices in 1898. some speculators, the industrialists Attilio Odero and Giuseppe Orlando, supported by the Italian Commercial Bank and the Credito Italiano. At the time, the Terni plant produced an average of 30,000 tons of steel per year, against a production capacity of 140,000 tons.

Bessemer converter

Thanks to its industrial solidity, SAFFAT expanded outside Umbria, taking over its main competitors. First of all, it absorbed the Ferriere Italiane, the Tuscan steel company that had been financed by Banca Generale and then by Credito Italiano. Then it took control of Elba, a steel mill in Portoferrajo, also financed by the Credito Italiano.

In 1905 Terni participated in the establishment of two important Italian industries. On the one hand it was one of the founding members of Vickers-Terni (the future OTO Melara) of La Spezia, for the production of artillery. On the other hand, it participated in the establishment of Ilva, created to build the Bagnoli steel plant and then became the national steel giant.

In 1907 the world economic crisis had particular repercussions on the steel industry. In Italy, only Terni was solid, thanks to public contracts. Its subsidiaries Elba and Ilva were instead hit by the overproduction crisis.

Between the two wars: the multi-sectoral model

At the end of World War I, state orders collapsed, facing SAFFAT on the specter of financial collapse, despite the initiative to build a new magnetic sheet rolling mill. The intervention of the Banca Commerciale Italiana which took control of Terni and, above all, the managerial competence of Arturo Bocciardo, trustee of the same bank, were decisive. Starting in 1922, when SAFFAT changed its name to Terni Società per l'Industria e Elettricità, more simply called Terni, it bought the Industrial Company for Calcium Carbide, Acetylene and Gas, with a plant also in Terni, with hydroelectric assets capable of developing just over 9 000 kW and with a small investee company, the Italian Society for Synthetic Ammonia (SIAS). The steel component, however, remained predominant and absorbed most of the investments in plant engineering, including four new rolling mills for iron rods, tinplates, thin sheets, and an electric furnace.

In 1927 the merger of Vickers-Terni with the Odero shipyards led to the creation of Odero-Terni and in 1929 with the inclusion of the Orlando Shipyards, Odero-Terni-Orlando (OTO) was born, which controlled the shipbuilding activities of alto Tirreno and the Ansaldo-San Giorgio shipyard, while the acquisition of the Nera-Velino hydroelectric complex, snatched from the local communities in exchange for the supply of electricity, allowed Terni to acquire the largest hydroelectric basin in Europe, with of 171,000 kW in 1931.

The history of Terni is linked to that of Valnerina also in relation to the presence of the Terni-Ferentillo tramway, promoted and built in 1901-1909 by the Società Impresse Electriche in Italy and the Società per Carburo di Calcio, which in 1922 was also sold to the "Terni". STET, the company operating the tramway, simultaneously acquired the railway link between the station and the Terni plant, thus rationalizing passenger and freight traffic. The entire plant was closed in 1960.

Press of 12,000 tons used in steel mills from 1935 to 1994, today positioned in front of the Terni station as an example of industrial archeology.

The years 1931–1932, particularly critical for the equilibrium of the Italian banking system, which was only then affected by the great depression of 1929, were decisive for the fate of Terni, which had hitherto been linked to state and bank financing. When the Banca Commerciale Italiana was saved through the acquisition by IRI, the subsidiaries, including Terni, also became part of the state group.

Mussolini and Alberto Beneduce, president of IRI, recognizing Terni as an important component of the national strategic industry, supported the solution of including it in Finsider, together with Ilva and the Ansaldo steel mills. The shipbuilding activities, which had made the history of the company, were spun off and inserted, together with the Ansaldo-San Giorgio shipyards in the company Cantieri Navali del Tirreno and Riuniti, while the steel industry, together with the electrical and chemical components, continued to be productive.

The self-sufficient course given to the national economy by the government greatly favored Terni, which increased its production with the installation of 4 new 25-ton furnaces, a 12,000-ton press, new workshops for the production of cannons and projectiles. In 1940, just under 10 000 people were employed there, capable of turning out 66 000 tons of war steel. The hydroelectric sector was adapted to the development of the steel plant with the construction of new power plants on the Vomano river which increased the generation of electricity to 1.3 billion kWh, and the Salto dam and Turano dam in the province of Rieti. With these credentials, Terni participated in the war effort of the Second World War, so much so that its plants were one of the targets of both Allied bombing and German retaliation.

The postwar period: the production of special steels

Terni and the Sinigaglia plan

With the cessation of the conflict, the iron and steel production of Terni was greatly reduced. The expulsion of Bocciardo from Finsider and the start of the Sinigaglia plan for the restructuring of the Italian steel industry, which envisaged the location on the sea of ​​all full-cycle production centers, put Terni in serious difficulty, already forced to rapidly change the typologies of artifacts for purposes no longer war but civil. The chemical sector was dismembered between ENI and Anic, while the electricity sector was the lifeline for the entire company: in 1952 it produced 2 billion kWh and in that period the power line was built which partly powered, the Cornigliano steel plant.

High voltage power line

Even the hydroelectric component, one of the best Italian productive realities, was absorbed in 1962 by Enel, which had not escaped the importance that this sector of Terni had in the national energy panorama.

Development in the pre-millenium era

The production policy that was implemented in those tense years, on the one hand to the recovery of the great work experience accumulated over decades, on the other to the technological updating, in an attempt to get out of the marginality in which the company had been relegated . The choice fell on special steels, and in this context the joint venture with the Armco Steel Corporation, in 1960, for the production of magnetic laminates and with United States Steel, in 1961, for the construction of a new plant for the production of stainless steel, ('Terninoss'). Nevertheless, the budgetary difficulties were considerable, because the plants were oversized compared to the market demand, although the magnetic sheet covered almost the entire national requirement and the large forged for the vessels of the nuclear power plants, especially abroad, had reached a good production level. Exemplars are the rotor for the 1 300 MW Brown Boveri generator, and the components for the nuclear power plants of the Westinghouse Electric Company in the United States, and for Électricité de France.

The situation worsened between 1974 and 1979 and Terni returned to the general reorganization of the public steel industry launched in 1982, when IRI decided to include private management criteria within Finsider; Terni was appointed leader in the production of castings, forging, stainless steels and silicon flat laminates, in which the Italsider plants of Lovere and Trieste were involved, also with an ancient steel tradition, with a total production capacity of over 500 000 tons of steel per year. Also in 1982 it also took over the Industria Acciai Inox (IAI) of Turin, formerly FIAT, specialized in the production of stainless flat rolled products.

In 1983 the stock was canceled from the stock exchange.

In the mid-eighties, the Terni plant, which spread over 1 300 000 square meters, produced 1 000 000 tons of steel per year, was among the top five world producers of stainless steel, national leader in production of magnetic laminates, of rods for nuclear power plants, of rolling stock for the State Railways, of pig iron and spheroidal cast iron.

Between 1990 and 1993 other initiatives took shape: the Società delle Fucine, interested in the production of high-tech steel components for various industrial sectors, the Tubificio di Terni, Titania for the production of titanium steel and CS Inox, for the production and marketing of stainless steel.

In 1994 the Terni and Turin plants merged into Acciai Speciali Terni (AST), which was privatized with the sale to Kai Italia, which included Italian entrepreneurs and the German multinational ThyssenKrupp, which a few years later will have the entire ownership of the AST, with the name of "ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni". At the end of the 1990s, steel production reached an annual average of just under 1 200 000 tonnes, with a capacity utilization level of around 100%.

Outokumpu and the EC

On January 31, 2012, Outokumpu purchases Inoxum, the Stainless Steel Division of ThyssenKrupp, of which ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni belongs, for 2.7 billion euros.[1][2][3] From 1 January 2013 the company name goes back to being simply AST.

Following this operation, the management of Outokumpu would find themselves having a dominant position on the European stainless steel market, which is why the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition has subordinated the go-ahead for the acquisition to the sale of the Italian activities of Inoxum (AST di Terni).[4][5][6][7][8][9] On 12 February 2014, the European Commission formalized the re-purchase of the AST and VDM by ThyssenKrupp.[10]

On the same day the transfer of Line 5 from Turin to Terni was made official.

On 10 March 2014, the steel mills celebrated 130 years of activity. For the occasion, the President of the Senate Pietro Grasso officially visited the factories, while on March 20 Pope Francis received 7,500 Terni workers in the Paul VI Hall of the Holy See for a special audience for the anniversary of the steel mills.

At the July 2014 assembly, AST CEO Marco Pucci resigned after 28 years of service, leaving the role to Lucia Morselli, former CEO of Berco.

On 10 March 2016 Lucia Morselli notified the parent company ThyssenKrupp that she will not extend her contract as CEO of AST which ends on 31 March 2016. From 1 April 2016, Massimiliano Burelli, formerly Managing Director of the aluminum manufacturer Constellium Singen GmbH and Constellium Deutschland GmbH in Germany, has taken on the role of managing director of AST.

2016 was the year in which Acciai Speciali Terni returned in profit after 8 years of red. A balance sheet that closed with a turnover of 1.49 billion and a profit of 3.3 million. Shipments were 856,000 tons with 942,000 tons of liquid.

The group

The core business of AST is in stainless flat rolled products. Ast also produces large-sized welded and forged tubes with the Tubificio and Fucine divisions and in the widespread distribution of stainless steel strips through the subsidiary Terninox.

Corporate archives

The archive complex of the Terni company was declared of considerable historical interest on 20 November 1984 by the Archival Superintendency for Umbria; a new provision was issued on 7 October 2008. The archive is located in the premises of an independent pavilion, inside the company complex in viale Benedetto Brin in Terni, specially prepared and renovated. The premises also house part of the photographic archive, partially rearranged, consisting of at least 100,000 units including photographs, negatives on glass plates and film, slides. The fund is made up of a total of 3 313 units from the period 1881–1973. In some series, in particular where there are registers, the dating goes up to 1992. There is also the presence of documents prior to the establishment of the company, which took place in 1884.


  1. Gerlach, Marilyn; Vassinen, Eero (31 January 2012). "Outokumpu to buy Thyssen stainless steel unit in $3.5". Reuters.
  2. "". Archived from the original on 1 February 2016.
  3. "L'inox di Thyssen a Outokumpu". 1 January 2012. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  4. European Commission (12 February 2014). "Mergers: Commission clears reacquisition of Acciai Speciali Terni and VDM by ThyssenKrupp, concluding the remedy implementation process following the Outokumpu/Inoxum merger". Press release. Brussels. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  5. "Outokumpu announces comprehensive measures to strengthen balance sheet and divests Terni and VDM to ThyssenKrupp" (press release). Espoo, Finland: Outokumpu. 30 November 2013.
  6. "Outokumpu has completed the Inoxum transaction and assumes the leading position in the stainless steel industry" (press release). Espoo,Finland: Outokumpu. 28 December 2012.
  7. "L'acciaieria di Terni va sul mercato". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  8. "Acciaio, l'Antitrust europeo ha deciso Terni fuori dalla fusione Outokumpu-ThyssenKrupp". Archived from the original on 30 May 2015.
  9. "Cessione Ast, vertice al ministero, Mise: "Valutare piano industriale per scegliere acquirente"". Archived from the original on 17 January 2013.
  10. "Acciai Speciali Terni: ok Ue a riacquisto da ThyssenKrupp". Agenzia Giornalistica Italia. Archived from the original on 2014-03-10.

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