Orkla A/S History
Telephone: (47) 22-50-10-80
Fax: (47) 22-50-16-91
Sales: NKr21.53 billion (US$3.43 billion) (1995)
Stock Exchanges: Oslo
SICs: 2033 Jams, Jellies, Juices, Ketchup, Sauces; 2038 Frozen Pizza, Frozen Dinners; 2043 Cereal Preparations and Breakfast Foods; 205 Bakery Products; 2082 Breweries, Beer Manufacturing; 2086 Soft Drinks, Bottled or Canned; 2092 Seafoods, Fresh and Frozen; 2099 Yeast Manufacturing; 2711 Newspapers, Publishing and Printing; 2721 Magazines, Publishing and Printing; 2821 Lignin and Diphenol Manufacturing; 2841 Detergents, Manufacturing; 2844 Cosmetics Manufacturing; 2869 Vanillin and Ethanol Manufacturing; 4911 Electric Power, Generation and Transmission; 5461 Retail Bakeries; 6282 Investment Counselors, Advice
Orkla is an expertise and market-driven group which bases its expansion and development on products and market areas where the opportunities of being preferred by customers and consumers are good. The Group plays an active role in the development and restructuring of the industries in which it has its main activities. This is carried out through a combination of internal development measures, acquisitions and cooperative arrangements. The Group's main goal is to be the leading supplier of branded consumer goods to Nordic households.
Orkla A/S is the largest branded consumer goods group and food and beverage producer in Scandinavia and one of the five largest companies in Norway. It operates in three major business areas: brand name consumer goods (80 percent of its 1995 operating revenues), chemicals (17 percent), and financial investments (3 percent). Orkla's US$3 billion branded goods segment contains its food products, beverage, confectionary, snack, biscuit, detergent, cosmetic, personal products, and newspaper/magazine operations and is divided into four segments: Orkla Foods, Orkla Brands, Orkla Beverages, and Orkla Media. Orkla is the Nordic region's largest supplier of biscuits, Norway's largest supplier of groceries and its second-largest producer of chocolate and snacks, and Denmark's market leader in snacks. Moreover, Orkla Foods is the Nordic region's leading producer of preserved vegetables, ketchup, frozen pizza, juice, jam, fruit soups, and marzipan and is a major producer of frozen dinners, caviar, fresh and chilled meats, cereals, bread and yeast, and seafood.
Orkla Beverages consists of Orkla's 45 percent interest in Pripps Ringnes (in association with the Swedish car maker Volvo), the leading producer of carbonated soft drinks and water products in Norway and Sweden. Orkla Media, the second-largest private media firm in Norway, owned 17 Norwegian newspapers in 1994 and was one of the four major owners of Norway's newspaper circulation market. It also owns 50 percent of Norwegian magazine publisher Hjemmet Mortensen, and operates several local newspapers, magazines, and printing plants in Poland.
Orkla's chemicals segment is run by its Borregaard division, which specializes in the development, production, and marketing of lignin-based binding and dispersing agents for applications in animal feeds, agrochemicals, oil drilling mud, cement, and dyes; fine chemicals products like intermediates (used as a contrast agent in X-ray photography) and vanillin (used in flavoring and perfume); and specialty pulp (used in textiles, photographic paper, and the manufacture of thickening agents in foods). In 1995 Borregaard had sales of US$800 million, employed 2,500, and maintained production plants in 11 countries and sales operations throughout the world.
Although a small part of Orkla's overall operations, its financial investments division, Orkla Finans A/S, owns one of Norway's largest securities portfolios (primarily in large Norwegian companies), which on August 31, 1996 had a market value of NKr9.72 billion, representing about one-quarter of Orkla's combined balance sheet. In addition to portfolio management, Orkla Finans offers capital management, stockbroking, project financing, and international financial consultancy services.
In 1995 Orkla's sales within Norway accounted for 52 percent of its operating revenues, sales to Scandinavia (excluding Norway) accounted for another 27 percent, and sales to the rest of Europe totaled 16 percent of total revenues. The United States and other non-European markets accounted for only 5 percent of Orkla's 1995 revenues. Orkla maintained production and other facilities in mainland China, Iceland, Singapore, Japan, the United States, and several European countries.
Orkla Industrier A/S: 1904-85
The original firm of the present-day Orkla A/S conglomerate traces its roots back to the first pyrite mining operations conducted at Løkken Verk, Norway (south of Trondheim near the Orkla River), which began in 1654. In the succeeding years, a smelting industry grew up around the mines in the area, and after a period of disuse, in 1904 the Løkken Verk mines were reopened by the newly formed Orkla Industrier. For the next 40-plus years, Orkla focused on developing its mining businesses. In the years following World War II, however, Orkla Industrier began building up an ever widening investment portfolio of other companies and in 1958 established an important joint venture with the Unilever Group (makers of "All" detergent, among other products) to manufacture detergents and personal products--a relationship that was still in place in 1997. In 1981, Orkla extended its strategy to diversify beyond its original mining businesses by purchasing its first newspaper publisher.
Borregaard A/S: 1918-85
In 1986 Orkla agreed to merge with Borregaard A/S, a major Norwegian chemicals company, to form a new entity, Orkla Borregaard A/S. Borregaard traced its roots back to 1918, when a partnership of Norwegian business interests had acquired the British firm The Kellner Partington Paper Pulp Co., Ltd., itself founded in 1889. A manufacturer of pulp and paper in Norway, Sweden, and Austria, Kellner Partington had fueled its growth through a combination of British capital and Austrian technology. Rechristened Borregaard, the new firm began establishing a reputation as one of the world's foremost producers of pulp and paper, with production facilities in several countries and international sales.
In 1938, Borregaard entered the chemicals business when it began using sugar compounds found in the byproducts of wood pulp production as the raw material for the production of ethanol (used in alcohol and as a solvent). In 1960, it began expanding its chemicals and consumer products, and in 1962 and 1967 it extended its pulp byproduct chemicals manufacturing applications from ethanol to vanillin and lignin, respectively. Although by the mid-1970s Borregaard still owned one of the two largest wood pulp mills in Norway, in the early 1980s it made the radical leap from using pulp as its primary raw material to the production of fine chemicals that used nonpulp-based applications from the specialized fields of advanced chemicals manufacture.
The reason for the shift was plain: demand for Borregaard's traditional wood processing products had begun to fade, and it was forced to begin unloading its international production facilities. In 1979, for example, it sold off its Borregaard Osterreich AG subsidiary for NKr84 million; then in 1983 it sold a 6 percent interest in its stock to food and beverages group Nora Industrier A/S, only to purchase back a 42 percent interest in Nora a year later. In 1985, Borregaard and Nora turned to each other's shares again: in a so-called demerger, Borregaard gained a 45 percent share in Stabburet-Nora--a Norwegian fresh and wholesale grocery company--in exchange for half a million shares of its own stock. Borregaard's overhaul of its historical identity as an old-line paper and pulp producer was about to enter a new phase.
Orkla Borregaard A/S: 1986-91
Borregaard's merger with Orkla in 1986 began the most important stage in its transformation into a high-tech global chemicals maker. As Borregaard's businesses were integrated into Orkla's corporate structure, Orkla's management undertook a major restructuring of the Borregaard fold to bring it in line with the new global markets for advanced chemicals products. Meanwhile, Orkla could now add to its traditional brand-name consumer goods, media, and investments businesses Borregaard's wood processing, chemical products, hydroelectric power generation, forestry, and engineering operations.
In 1987, Orkla Borregaard closed its Løkken Gruber mining operations and a year later merged with four Norwegian firms: Johan Norlie A/S, Berskaug A/S, parsley producer Persilfabriken A/S, and real estate firm Orkla Eiendom A/S. To further bolster its new consumer and media orientation, it acquired Ostlandske Fryserier A/S's cold storage plant in Brummunddal, Norway, in 1988 and map publisher Planforlaget in early 1989. During 1989 and 1990 Orkla Borregaard enhanced its position in the chemicals industry with the purchase of increased interests in the chemicals firms Elkem and Dyno Industrier, the acquisition of a Swedish firm's international lignin operations, and the formation of a joint venture with the Eni Group of Italy to produce vanillin, synthetic vanillin, raw materials, and derivative products.
Nora Industrier A/S: 1969-91
Less than five years after Orkla's monumental merger with Borregaard, the company moved again to expand its product lines and market share through a major acquisition: on January 1, 1991, Orkla Borregaard and Nora Industrier were united through an exchange of stock to form Orkla A/S. Nora Industrier had been formed in 1978 from the consolidation of several Oslo breweries with roots going back to the 1820s. Within a few years, it had become Norway's leading supplier of beer and carbonated soft drinks, fortified by holdings in the Norwegian food market.
Within five years of its founding Nora had acquired holdings in a brewery, a mineral water producer, and a glassmaker and merged operations with a fourth firm. In 1984 alone it bought another brewery (A/S Lillehammer Bryggeri) and a health drink maker (Vitaminveien 6), established a real estate firm, and began acquiring a 47 percent interest in Helly-Hansen A/S, a major Norwegian manufacturer of men's and women's clothing founded in 1877. Between 1986 and 1988 Nora merged with yeast makers Gjaer A/S and Idu Gjarfabrikken A/S, chemicals producer Oslo Kjemiske Industri A/S, seed supplier Norsk Froforsyning A/S, flour mill Bjolsen Valsemolle A/S, and beverage maker Hamar Bryggeri, among others. In 1987 Nora moved closer to Orkla's product sphere by gaining a substantial ownership stake in six Nordic industrial bakeries and becoming a majority shareholder in the new bakery industry group Bakers A/S. By 1995 the Nora unit within Orkla A/S would be one of the largest suppliers of foods and ingredients to the Norwegian grocery trade, catering, bakery, and food manufacturing industries. In 1988 it merged its breweries and mineral water companies with beverage maker Ringnes Frydenlund, creating a single beverage division and a major new force in the Norwegian beverage market.
Ringnes had been founded as Ringnes Bryggeri (brewery) by Amund and Ellef Ringnes in 1876. Among its landmark products were Vørterol (1903), "recommended by 400 doctors"; the first bottles of a popular new soft drink named Solo (1934); the first Coca-Cola sold in Norway (1938), the first Heineken beer produced in Norway (1975), and the introduction of the market-leading Ringnes brand of beer itself. With Ringnes leading its beverage markets, Nora let Hamar Bryggeri's bottling pact with Pepsi expire in 1987, and in 1989 and 1990 acquired ten companies, from mineral water producer Narvik Minneralvann A/S and food producer Danish Fancy Food A/S to brewer Tou A/S and health food producer Elfas Helsekost A/S.
Orkla A/S: 1991-94
Until the Nora merger, Orkla Borregaard for all its rapid growth had remained primarily a Norwegian company with scattered businesses in Denmark. Its holdings in Sweden--the largest segment of the Scandinavian market--were almost nonexistent. With Nora now anchoring Orkla's industry-leading consumer brands group, however, Orkla A/S entered the 1990s poised to become a broadly positioned Scandinavian firm ready to expand into Europe and beyond. Its specific long-term goal was to reduce its dependence on Norwegian sales to less than half of annual revenues, and toward that end in 1991 Orkla Beverage joined in a Polish joint venture to gain a foothold in the newly opened Iron Curtain market and two years later established Ringnes Beer Ltd. of Poland.
Orkla's late 1980s campaign to restructure Borregaard into a global high-tech chemicals firm continued in the early 1990s with the erection of a new fine chemicals plant in Norway and the acquisition of Daishowa Chemicals of the United States and industrial ethanol producer Kemetyl AB of Sweden in 1991. In 1993, it added the lignin operations of Finland's Metsä-Serla and the Italian and Chinese diphenol (used in the production of vanillin) plants of Italy's EniChem Synthesis in 1994. In addition, the EniChem deal--which was expected to net Orkla NKr500 million in 1995--gave Orkla's new Borregaard Synthesis unit control of the Norwegian firm EuroVanillin, the second-largest vanillin producer in the world.
Orkla also focused intently on its media empire. In 1991 Orkla Media bought three Norwegian newspapers, and in November the Norwegian government awarded Netcom GSM A/S, a mobile telecommunications company owned by Orkla Communications, the go-ahead to provide cell phone services to Norway's central region beginning in late 1992. Then in 1993, in a joint venture with Norske Egmont Orkla, the company acquired a 50 percent stake in Hjemmet Mortensen group, the market leader in the Norwegian magazine business. It followed this with the purchase of interests in the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende and six Polish newspapers in 1993. In 1994, Orkla Media acquired the newspapers Drammens Tidende og Buskeruds Blad and Varden and gained a stake in the newspaper Fjordenes Tidende. Finally, in its critical food segment, Orkla scooped up Swedish biscuit maker Gøteborgs Kex AB, Finnish biscuit maker Kantolan, and grocery wholesaler R.N. Grossist of Sweden. Concentrating on the consumer food market, it bought out the remainder of Bakers A/S and sold half its interest in clothier Helly-Hansen before repositioning its household products, biscuits/snacks, and chocolate/confectionary units under one roof: Orkla Brands.
Procordia, Abba, Pripps, Ringnes--and Coca-Cola: 1995-96
Orkla's activities in the food industry in the early 1990s paled in comparison to its third major acquisition in a decade: the purchase in April 1995 of Procordia Foods and Abba Seafood AB from Swedish car maker Volvo for US$578 million. The deal, however, would not only make Orkla a US$1.6 billion corporate colossus with annual food sales twice the size of current levels. Volvo also agreed to enter into a joint venture with Orkla to create a new beverage industry leader out of the two companies' flagship bottlers, Pripps (Sweden's largest brewery) and Ringnes (Coca-Cola's largest Norwegian bottler), respectively. The new Pripps Ringnes AB would make Orkla the number one beer, carbonated soft drink, and water products company in Norway and Sweden and, through Pripps Ringnes's stake in Oy Hartwall Ab and Baltic Beverage Holdings, the market leader in beer sales in, respectively, Finland and the Baltic/St. Petersburg, Russia.
Orkla's CEO Jens P. Heyerdahl told interviewers that the magnitude of the Volvo acquisition/merger would improve Orkla's ability to stave off foreign competition for its nearby markets. Although Heyerdahl had helped to defeat Norway's proposed membership in the European Union (EU) in 1994, the Procordia/Abba/Pripps Ringnes deal demonstrated that he now wanted to position Orkla to enter the European market he had once scorned by way of Sweden, an EU member since 1994. Because the new venture, Pripps Ringnes, would effectively control 82 percent of the Norwegian beer market, 60 percent of the Swedish soft drink market, and 95 percent of Norway's market for bottled water, however, the second phase of the Volvo-Orkla deal had to wait upon the approval of both the EU and Norway and Sweden's antitrust agencies. The anchor of the Volvo-Orkla food deal, Procordia AB, had been formed by the Swedish government in 1969 as Statsforetag, and in its two-decade-plus existence had branched from beverage sales into foods, pharmaceuticals, media services, hotels, tobacco, engineering, and development. By the end of 1990 it had sales of SKr36.6 billion and 45,000 employees and maintained subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Denmark, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Netherlands, France, the United States, and Switzerland. By the time Volvo assumed direction of the company, however, Procordia was, as the Wall Street Journal characterized it, "only moderately profitable," and thus Volvo was unable to get prospective international buyers outside of Scandinavia to make compelling bids.
By September 1995, the EU and the Swedish government's antitrust agency had granted Orkla permission to absorb Procordia and Abba in exchange for several concessions: Orkla could no longer prevent the Swedish food company ICA from marketing its own private-label juices and jams, and Orkla itself would refrain from producing private-label juices and jams in Sweden for three years. More importantly, Orkla agreed to sell off its Hansa Bryggeri, the second-largest brewer in Norway, in 1996 to ease competitors' antitrust anxieties.
Almost as soon as the deal was finalized, however, Orkla faced a major obstacle. As part of its 42-year-old bottling and distribution contract with Pripps, the Coca-Cola Company--whose products accounted for 35 percent of Pripps Ringnes's total sales--was entitled to renegotiate its Pripps contract, and it quickly submitted a new contract in which Pripps would not only be required to focus exclusively on Coke's products but also sell Coke the Pripps line of soft drinks that it marketed along with Coke's products. Pripps's management rejected Coke's demands, calling them "corporate imperialism," and in December 1995 Coke dropped Pripps as its sole supplier for the Swedish market, citing Pripps's new management (i.e., Orkla) and the company's "weak" performance. Pripps countered that its Swedish sales had grown 10 percent annually in each of the past eight years, but the damage was already done. In December, union members of a Pripps bottler in Norway stopped production of Coke products in sympathetic protest even though Pripps's Norwegian operations were unaffected by the terminated Swedish contract.
Unaccustomed to such unrest in its foreign operations, in July 1996 Coca-Cola terminated its Norwegian bottling and sales agreements as well, forcing Orkla's new Pripps Ringnes venture to lay off 1,400 workers. With Coke now determined to set up its own bottling and sales operations in Scandinavia, Coke and Orkla agreed on a $166 million severance package that would temporarily extend the historic Coke-Pripps collaboration until the beginning of 1999. Orkla was now free to promote its own soft drink products (such as Mozell and Farris) over Coca-Cola's, and with 60 to 65 percent market share in the Swedish and Norwegian soft drinks market it hoped to be able to compete against Coke's new Scandinavian soft drink machine.
Global at Last: 1996-97
If Orkla's new beverage operations were in tumult, the expansion of its chemicals businesses proceeded at a more orderly pace. By the mid-1990s, an ever more substantial portion of Borregaard's sales were coming from Asia. It was the majority owner of a fine chemicals company for the manufacture of crop pesticide products in China's Jiangsu province, had established a laboratory for technical customer support in Singapore, and maintained sales offices in Singapore, Japan, and mainland China. In May 1996, Borregaard LignoTech and China's Kaishantun Chemical Fibre Pulp Mill signed an agreement to jointly produce lignin-based products (primarily for additives to concrete) through a new joint venture in northeast China, and a year earlier Orkla had opened a new lignin plant outside Seattle. As the century drew to a close, Borregaard had successfully made the transition from a basic paper and pulp supplier to a niche producer of vanillin and intermediates to a diversified global producer of a full range of chemicals for the construction, agricultural, and pharmaceuticals industries.
Orkla's campaign to become an even larger presence in the European media market also advanced in the mid-1990s. In mid-1996, for example, Orkla Media signed a letter of intent with the Hersant Group, a French media giant, to take over Hersant's controlling interest in the Polish newspaper publishing company Presspublica, which owned the national daily Rzeczpospolita and the newspaper's printing company Warszawa Print. The deal brought to nine the number of local and regional Polish dailies owned by Orkla Media, not counting its printing facilities in northern and southern Poland. With the Presspublica acquisition, improved advertising revenues in its Norwegian newspaper businesses, and cost reductions in its magazine segment, Orkla Media's profits edged upward in mid-1996.
Throughout 1995-97, Orkla wrestled with the problems and opportunities presented by the Procordia/Abba/Pripps Ringnes merger of 1995. In early 1996 beer and soft drink sales in Sweden fell in part because of high Swedish alcohol taxes, which drove consumers to buy private beer imports. Under a European Union deadline, Orkla finally sold brewery Hansa Bryggeri to a group of investors in December 1996 to meet the terms of the 1995 Pripps Ringnes merger, and to consolidate its new Abba Seafood business in September 1996 Orkla sold its German seafood operations and mackerel and shrimp factories in Sweden and reduced its interest in Abba's Danish mussel factory. By intentionally focusing on fewer products and markets, a leaner Abba Seafood promised to offer Orkla increased longterm profitability.
Productivity improvements, a new 20-year extension of its detergent/personal products agreement with Unilever, Sweden's reduction of its value-added tax (VAT) on food, price increases for Orkla's Swedish grocery products, the reorganization of its Swedish fruit and berry production operations, and improved versions of its Omo and Blenda detergent brands--all contributed to an increase in Orkla's consumer-branded products segments in 1996. From operating revenues of NKr15.47 billion in 1990, Orkla's revenues had risen to NKr21.53 billion by 1995. As the day drew near when identical, truly "Nordic" brands could be marketed in every Scandinavian country, in 1996 Orkla reached its long-sought goal of 50 percent or more non-Norwegian sales.
Principal Subsidiaries: Orkla Foods A.S.; Stabburet A/S; Procordia Food AB; Abba Seafood AB; Regal Mølle A.S.; Idun Industri A.S.; Bakers AS; Pripps Ringnes AB; Ringes A.S.; Lilleborg A.S.; Göteborgs Kex AB; Saetre AS; Nidar AS; Orkla Media A.S.; Orkla Commnication A.S.; Hjemmet Mortensen AS; Orkla DM AS; Borregaard; Borregaard Industries Limited; Orkla ASA; Orkla Finans A.S.
- Alperowicz, Natasha, "Nordic Chemical Sector Reshuffles," Chemical Week, June 21, 1995, p. 25.
- "Beer Maker Is Sold to a Group of Investors," New York Times, December 31, 1996.
- Carnegy, Hugh, "Hansa Bryggeri Sold," Financial Times, December 31, 1996.
- ------, "Investment Gains Lift Orkla at Eight Months," Financial Times, October 4, 1996.
- Frank, Robert, and Stephen D. Moore, "Coca-Cola Seen Resuming Talks over Bottler," Wall Street Journal, December 11, 1995.
- Johnson, Greg, "World Watch," Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1996, p. D4.
- Markiewicz, Tadeusz, "Orkla to Snap Up Rzeczpospolita," The Warsaw Voice, June 2, 1996.
- McIver, Greg, "Coca-Cola Sets Scandinavia's Drinks Market Fizzing," Financial Times, June 25, 1996.
- Moore, Stephen, "Volvo to Sell Food Unit to Orkla, Set up Beverage Joint Venture," Wall Street Journal, April 4, 1995, p. A16.
- Nordli, Jan-Frode, "NetCom Gets Norway's 2nd GSM Mobile Phone Franchise," Newsbytes News Network, November 8, 1991.
- "Norway Orkla Unit, Coca Cola to End Cooperation," Wall Street Journal, January 28, 1997, http://www.wsj.com
- "Orkla Pre-Tax Up 18.6%," Financial Times, June 7, 1996.
- "Pacts Will Be Terminated with Unit of Volvo, Orkla," Wall Street Journal, June 20, 1996.
- "Sino-Norwegian Joint Venture to Produce Lignin-Based Products," AsiaInfor Services, 1996, Electric Library, http://www.elibrary.com
- "Sweden Approves Orkla Purchase," Wall Street Journal, September 15, 1995.
- "Sweden's Pripps Loses Coca-Cola Franchise, Dealing Blow to Orkla," Dow Jones Publication Library, Wall Street Journal Interactive, December 1, 1995, http://www.wsj.com.
- "Union at Norwegian Bottler Threatens Production Halt," Wall Street Journal, December 5, 1995.
- "Volvo Sells Food Firms," Automotive News, April 10, 1995.
- "Volvo to Sell Food Unit to Orkla, Set Up Beverage Joint Venture," Wall Street Journal, April 4, 1995.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18. St. James Press, 1997.