January 20, 2015 / 6:10 PM / in 4 years

Schaeffler shifts 34 percent Continental stake off balance sheet

FRANKFURT, Jan 20 (Reuters) - German auto supplier Schaeffler AG IPO-SHF.F said on Tuesday a 34 percent stake in rival Continental AG had been shifted off the books, in a step that simplifies the shareholder structure ahead of a possible stock market listing.

A spokesman for Herzogenaurach, Germany-based Schaeffler said the Continental stake, amassed during a takeover attempt in 2008, was shifted to another company controlled by the Schaeffler family at the end of last year.

Schaeffler, which makes industrial ball bearings, borrowed 16 billion euros ($18.50 billion) to buy Continental in 2008, in a deal that unravelled during the financial crisis.

The deal had to be partially unwound and Schaeffler has been restructuring its debt ever since. Schaeffler still owns a 46 percent stake in Continental, reducing its stake from around 90 percent at the height of the takeover battle.

Schaeffler has said it may explore a stock market listing, emphasising that an initial public offering (IPO) is one of many options. A spokesman for the company said on Tuesday there was “no pressure” to decide on whether to pursue a listing.

Dow Jones Newswires was first to report the Continental stake had been moved to a different company. ($1 = 0.8651 euros) (Reporting by Jan Schwartz, writing by Edward Taylor; editing by Susan Thomas)

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