FRANKFURT ThyssenKrupp (TKAG.DE) asked bidders to resubmit offers for its loss-making U.S. and Brazilian steel mills, two sources familiar with the process said, as it struggles to attract interest at high enough prices.
Fears of a long, drawn-out sale process sent shares in ThyssenKrupp down almost 4 percent on Monday.
The company, Germany's biggest steelmaker, asked for the resubmissions because it deemed the initial bids too low, one of the sources said.
ThyssenKrupp Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger wants to sell the mills separately for the combined remaining book value of 7 billion euros ($9 billion), although analysts expect the value to be more in the 3-4 billion euro range.
One trader said $9 billion seemed unreasonable and the deal could fail if the group insisted on that amount.
The company has so far invested about 12 billion euros altogether in the two sites.
The source said while Thyssen accepted that 7 billion euros was unlikely, it was still looking for somewhere between 3-4 billion euros and that figure.
The group also asked for bids to be resubmitted in order to clarify which bidders would need to team up with partners for the mills, the two sources said.
ThyssenKrupp declined to comment on Monday, saying only that the process was ongoing.
The company said in May it was considering all options for the loss-making steel mills, including a partnership or a sale, to halt losses and concentrate on its European business.
The plants were meant to give ThyssenKrupp a foothold in the Americas after it lost out to Arcelor in a bidding war for Canada's Dofasco in 2006, but the mills have struggled with rising costs and sluggish demand.
ArcelorMittal (ISPA.AS), U.S. Steel (X.N), Nucor (NUE.N), JFE Steel JFEST.UL and CSN are expected to be among bidders.
Posco (005490.KS) has only made a preliminary offer, a source previously said, while Baosteel (600019.SS), also previously cited as interested, has dropped out.
Steel Americas, the division that includes both sites, posted an adjusted loss before interest and tax of 778 million euros for the nine months to the end of June and is reportedly heading for a full-year loss of more than 1 billion euros.
ThyssenKrupp is being advised on its review of Steel Americas by Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N). ($1 = 0.7733 euros)
(Reporting by Alexander Huebner and Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)