Following its last ever Annual General Meeting on April 3 2008, Aker Kvaerner announced that it was changing its name with immediate effect. At the same time a new visual identity was launched which, together with our new name, identifies our connection with Aker, honours our heritage and people, and underlines our commitment to our customers. We are Aker Solutions.
Kvaerner Brug was founded in Oslo in 1853. Kvaerner Brug began cooperating with Myrens Verksted in 1922, when the two companies divided the hydropower and the pulping product areas between them. Kvaerner Brug concentrated on hydropower, while Myrens Verksted became the Norwegian partner in Kamyr, a Norwegian/Swedish/Finnish joint venture that was the predecessor of the present day pulp and paper activities of the Group.
Kvaerner and Myren jointly acquired the majority shareholding in Thunes Mekaniske Verksted in 1943. In 1960, Kvaerner Brug's President, Kjell Langballe, was appointed President of all companies within the 'Kvaerner Group' and a joint holding company Kvaerner Industries a.s. was established in December 1967.
From these beginnings, the Kvaerner Group comprised 10 Norwegian companies with 3,200 employees and operating revenues of NOK 385 million. Kvaerner has been listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange since 1967.
The Moss yard in Norway became the first Kvaerner shipyard, where in 1965 the first Kvaerner-developed gas carrier was built. At the same time, work started on the spherical tank concept for carrying liquefied natural gas, LNG. The first LNG-carriers based on this concept were built by the Kvaerner yards in Moss and Stavanger between 1973 and 1977. Shipbuilding at these yards had ceased by the time Kvaerner acquired the Govan yard in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1988. The acquisitions of the Kleven yards in Norway, Masa-Yards in Finland, and Warnow Werft in Germany followed in 1990, 1991 and 1992 respectively. Until 1996, Kvaerner was also a significant shipowner with a large fleet mostly of gas carriers and reefers.
The Group entered the offshore oil and gas market from its base in Oslo through Kvaerner Engineering, which was established as an engineering and contracting company in the late 1960s. Offshore construction work started at Kvaerner Egersund in 1978 and during this period the shipyard in Stavanger was converted into an offshore fabrication facility.
Kvaerner's pulp and paper activities were handled through Kamyr until 1990, when Kamyr was divided between Kvaerner and Ahlstrom. Thereafter, Kvaerner Pulp & Paper became a core business area in its own right.
During 1996, Kvaerner sought to strengthen its engineering base internationally through the acquisition of the UK-based conglomerate, Trafalgar House. The acquisition was completed in May 1996. Kvaerner became an international player in shipbuilding, oil and gas, pulp and paper and engineering and construction. It moved its international headquarters to London in the spring of 1996. In the following years, increasing financial and operational difficulties followed strong growth financed through debt. The acquisitions had resulted in a broad business portfolio, without a corresponding management capacity. The consequences were weak integration of the acquired units and no realisation of synergies between the different business areas.
In 1999 the company initiated a major sell-off, focusing on realising capital through divestments. These efforts did not solve the mounting financial and operational challenges, which eventually brought the company into an acute liquidity crisis in August 2001. In July 2000, Aker Maritime ASA, a Norway-based offshore products, technology and services provider, had bought 26 per cent of the shares in Kvaerner ASA. The investment was made with the aim of creating a focused, profitable and forward-looking group based in Norway, with substantial international operations. It took 18 months to achieve the goal of integrating these businesses. In late November 2001 an agreement was reached between Aker Maritime ASA and Kvaerner ASA. Aker Maritime injected NOK 2.8 bn in net assets, raised another NOK 3.5 bn through two direct issues and renegotiated NOK 8.6 bn of Kvaerner's debt. The result was a financially strong Kvaerner, with four focused business areas: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Construction, Pulp & Paper and Shipbuilding.
During the fall of 2002, the Group decided to adopt the Aker Kvaerner brand for the entire Group. From 1 April 2007, the structure of the Group was changed to focus on five business areas; Field Development, MMO, Subsea, Products & Technologies, Process & Construction.
In Aprl 2008 the company announced its new name: Aker Solutions. The name represents a simplification and strengthening of our corporate identity and outlines our offering of comprehensive industrial solutions. It identifies our connection with Aker, a large industrial group with operations in industries and sectors with which we are engaged. It communicates the long term committed ownership of Aker, our synergies with other Aker companies and between our business units and business areas.
In a process like this, many things change - but our values, our strategy and our commitment to our customers remain the same.