Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Homeward bound

A scaled-down Alcoa returns to the nest


Alcoa’s decision to return its headquarte­rs to Pittsburgh is welcome news. However, it is important to remember that the company is a ghost of its former self, and the return mostly has symbolic value for Pittsburgh, which was once a headquarte­rs town and would like to become one again.

The company, founded in the Strip District in 1888, had its headquarte­rs Downtown and then on the North Shore before moving it to New York — a trendier, more convenient place, the corporate brass thought — in 2006. What poor judgment. The more expensive scenery did nothing to arrest Alcoa’s financial unraveling, spurred by years of low aluminum prices and, according to some, ineffectiv­e leadership.

In November, the aluminum maker spun off its parts manufactur­ing businesses into a new company, Arconic, which will remain headquarte­red in New York. Arconic is listed on the Fortune 500; Alcoa is no longer on the prestigiou­s list. (Arconic’s CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran Alcoa before the spinoff, was forced out last week because of an impolitic letter he sent to the executive of a hedge fund that was trying to oust him because of dissatisfa­ction with his performanc­e.)

Alcoa’s headquarte­rs relocation is part of a global series of office consolidat­ions intended to save $5 million annually. But only 10 employees will be moving with the headquarte­rs. They will join about 205 Alcoa employees and contractor­s still working on the North Shore. Also working there are Arconic employees who remained based in town after the spinoff.

Alcoa and Pittsburgh are both poorer for the company leadership’s 11-year distance from Pittsburgh. With luck, the company will rebound and join Pittsburgh’s resurgence. Arconic’s headquarte­rs would be welcome, too.

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