FRANKFURT ThyssenKrupp (TKAG.DE), Germany's biggest steelmaker, is examining the possibility of selling part of its European steel business to an investor, Rheinische Post newspaper said on its website on Saturday, citing unnamed supervisory board sources.
A company spokesman declined comment to Reuters and pointed to previous statements by Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger that Thyssen had no plans to divest European steel operations.
ThyssenKrupp, reeling from losses at its Steel Americas unit it is trying to sell, cannot rule out a capital increase in the next six to nine months, its Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger said in May.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday cited industry sources as saying that as part of a capital increase of as much as 1 billion euros ($1.30 billion), state-owned RAG foundation could buy fresh shares to ensure the steelmaker's independence.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday that RAG, which controls chemicals maker Evonik (EVKn.DE), could buy shares in ThyssenKrupp as part of a possible capital increase at the steelmaker.
The Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, also known as the Krupp Foundation, has a 25.3 percent stake in Thyssen and has been a guardian of its independence but analysts said it was unlikely to take part in a capital increase.
There had been speculation that if the Krupp Foundation lost its blocking minority, Thyssen could become a takeover target.
(Reporting By Marilyn Gerlach and Tom Kaekenhoff; Editing by David Cowell)