Thyssen Krupp CEO Ms Martina Merz does not want to roll out a red carpet for prospective buyers for the Thyssen steel division. She said in a speech prepared for annual general meeting next Friday “Liberty Steel sent us an updated offer last week, which we are currently examining very carefully. There is still a need for clarification on a number of complex topics in the offer. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the future viability of steel and thus safeguard our employee’s prospects. In our view, this is more important than the question of ownership. We are in discussions with Liberty Steel to this end. A decision should be made in March."
Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, separately reported that Liberty submitted a firmed up bid for the steel unit late last month that calls for the German company to inject capital to cover liabilities including a EUR 4 billion pension shortfall and Liberty Steel Group's offer for Thyssenkrupp's steel unit gave it a negative equity value of at least EUR 1.5 billion.
ThyssenKrupp has always stated that it will not make itself dependent on third parties. In addition to the Liberty offer, the group is also working flat out on the alternatives. In addition to a sale, a spin off of the division or a self directed restructuring is also possible. Bloomberg News reported last month that Thyssenkrupp was considering listing the steel division on the stock market amid mounting opposition from union officials and some large shareholders to a potential sale to Liberty. Key Thyssenkrupp stakeholders have questioned whether Liberty has adequate funding and a viable strategic plan for the steel business.
Ms Merz is also trying to repeat the strategy that was so successful in selling the elevator division. There she left several options open until the end with the success that the price exceeded the mark of 17 billion euros in the end.
While the business has dragged for years on Thyssenkrupp, it likely has benefited recently from the global rise in steel prices.