Crisis-hit ThyssenKrupp mulls sale of EUR15B elevator unit

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – ThyssenKrupp’s interim CEO said on Friday the German behemoth was going through a “difficult” time but hopes to turn the tide by selling or listing its profitable elevators business, valued at over EUR15 billion (USD16.5 billion).

A final decision on a full or partial sale of the unit or its stock market flotation will be made “by the end of February”, Martina Merz said at the group’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Bochum.

“ThyssenKrupp finds itself in an extraordinarily difficult situation,” she said, after the group with its steel-to-submarines product range sank deeper into the red in 2018-2019, embarking on a hefty restructuring involving thousands of job cuts.

Deciding the future of the elevator unit was the group’s “top priority”, said Merz, aiming to raise billions of euros in fresh capital that could be used across the conglomerate’s struggling divisions.

“This will give ThyssenKrupp a chance at a fresh start,” Merz said.

She declined to give details about potential buyers but revealed that offers received so far valued ThyssenKrupp’s elevators and escalators business at “more than 15 billion euros”.

According to the Financial Times, ThyssenKrupp has attracted at least four bids for its crown jewel, including from Finnish lift maker Kone. Merz, former head of ThyssenKrupp’s supervisory board, stepped in as chief executive last year after the group lost two CEOs in quick succession.

The reshuffle came after the European Commission thwarted ThyssenKrupp’s plan to merge its long-suffering steelmaking arm with India’s Tata, as the industry grapples with cheap steel from China.

Following the merger setback, Thyssenkrupp announced it would slash 6,000 of its 160,000 jobs around the world as part of a major cost-cutting drive.

A ThyssenKrupp plant steams in Germany. PHOTO: AP