In the year since Baton Rouge-based Albemarle Corp. announced its $6 billion acquisition of Rockwood Holdings, Albemarle has been evaluating the possibility of calling another location its corporate headquarters.
The Rockwood deal was so large and transformative that Albemarle Chief Executive Officer Luke Kissam said in 2014 that it would take two to three years to digest.
Kissam emphasized then that the deal would probably add jobs to the shared-services center in Baton Rouge — the back-office and administration-support services housed in Albemarle’s corporate headquarters. There also would be little impact on the local manufacturing facility.
What wasn’t made clear was that buying New Jersey-based lithium giant Rockwood might result in specialty chemicals maker Albemarle relocating its corporate headquarters, which had officially located here in 2008 with $7.9 million in state and local incentives.
“The plan is not to move, the plan is to evaluate whether it makes sense to have the corporate headquarters here or somewhere else,” spokeswoman Ashley Mendoza said.
In fact, Albemarle is evaluating all of its sites worldwide, not just the corporate headquarters, Mendoza said. The company added several locations with the acquisition of Rockwood. The review is designed to make sure Albemarle is in the locations that will allow the company to continue growing, she said.
No decision has been made on the headquarters location, Mendoza said, and she does not know when that decision will be made. Albemarle has just over 300 people at its headquarters, but not all of those people would be included in a move, she added. The total includes the top executives, as well as the back-office operations and administration support workers.
Albemarle moved its corporate headquarters from Richmond, Virginia, in 2008 to Baton Rouge, where it had long-established administrative offices. The company received $7.9 million in incentives to do so. The state paid $3.2 million in relocation costs and $3.7 million in payroll tax credits. The city-parish put up $1 million toward relocation costs.
Albemarle promised to bring 30 executives and support staff from Virginia and add $7 million a year to its Baton Rouge payroll. The company employed more than 600 people with a payroll of close to $60 million in Baton Rouge at the time.
An LSU economic impact report estimated the move would create 161 new jobs and $10.7 million in new earnings in Louisiana.
In announcing that move, Albemarle officials cited the positive direction of Louisiana and Baton Rouge, successes with administrative and manufacturing facilities in the area, and the incentive package. Albemarle officials also liked Louisiana’s decision to eliminate the sales tax on natural gas and to phase out corporate income taxes that other states didn’t collect.
Then-CEO Mark Rohr said putting the corporate headquarters in Louisiana was a key element in Albemarle’s global strategy.
Mendoza said that was true then, but Albemarle is a completely different company now.
At the time Albemarle acquired it, Rockwood employed 3,500 people in 17 countries. Albemarle already had 3,900 employees worldwide.
“When you do an acquisition of that size, it’s the prudent thing to do, to evaluate all of your locations, make sure you’re in the right place for growth,” Mendoza said.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.