History of the Aluminium Industry’s Cartels

  • Steven Kendall Holloway
Part of the Macmillan International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


The contemporary highly interwoven pattern of connections among the aluminium multinationals has a long history stretching back to 1886 and the simultaneous discoveries in the US and France of a cheap commercial process for the reduction of alumina into aluminium. Both of these processes involved the same electrometallurgical technique used even today but at the time it resulted in a miasma of patent agreements. As noted in the previous chapter, the manipulation of these patents set the basic structure of the infant industry. The French Herout patent (1886) resulted in the creation of two firms: a French firm to exploit the process locally and a Swiss firm to process aluminium in the rest of the world. The Société Electrometallurgique Français (Froges enterprise) entered into competition with the older Pechiney firm. German backing played an important role in the Swiss Metallurgische Gesellschaft (1887) renamed first in 1888 Aluminium Industries AG (AIAG) and then in 1963 Swiss Aluminum (Alusuisse). In the US, the Pittsburgh Reduction Company emerged in 1888 from early battles as the sole producer of American aluminium under the Hall patent. This company later became the Aluminium Company of America (ALCOA) in 1907.


Justice Department Aluminium Company Aluminium Industry Consent Decree French Firm 
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Copyright information

© Steven Kendall Holloway 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Kendall Holloway
    • 1
  1. 1.St Francis Xavier UniversityNova ScotiaCanada

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