* CEO Heinrich Hiesinger offers to step down
* Supervisory board to decide on his offer on Friday
* Shares jump 4.8 pct to top of STOXX 600 index (Adds fund manager comment, updates share price)
By Tom Käckenhoff and Maria Sheahan
DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT, July 6 (Reuters) - Shares in Thyssenkrupp rose on Friday after Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger unexpectedly offered to step down, with investors hoping his departure could clear the way for a more radical restructuring of the group.
The stock rose 4.8 percent to 22.53 euros in early trade, making it the top performer on the STOXX Europe 600 index .
Hiesinger’s resignation offer, less than a week after he sealed a landmark joint venture deal with India’s Tata Steel , creates a power vacuum at Thyssenkrupp as it prepares to present a new strategy to satisfy shareholder demands for a revamp of the group.
Activist shareholders Cevian and Elliott have both criticised Thyssenkrupp’s performance under Hiesinger, with shares down 28 percent since he took office in January 2011.
The company’s supervisory board is due to meet later on Friday to take a decision on Hiesinger’s request.
It was not immediately clear whether it would also appoint an interim CEO to take over until it found a suitable successor. Chief Financial Officer Guido Kerkhoff is seen as a possible candidate to take over for the moment.
“Now there is an opportunity to develop a new strategy, to advance restructuring and to reposition the group,” said Ingo Speich, fund manager at Union Investment, which holds about $28.5 million worth of Thyssenkrupp stock.
“A successor should therefore add a new perspective rather than hold onto the existing strategy,” he added.
The resignation was the fourth by a German blue-chip company’s CEO in as many months, after the chiefs of Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen and Beiersdorf .
Hiesinger, 58, presided over Thyssenkrupp’s protracted exit from its volatile steel business and simplified the steel-to-submarines group’s structure.
But he recently ran into opposition from key shareholders over what the future of the group should look like.
Shareholder criticism also mounted following a joint venture deal with Tata Steel agreed over the weekend, with some saying the terms were not favourable enough and that Hiesinger could have sought a better deal.
“This decision was not easy for me, quite the contrary,” Hiesinger said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.
“I am deliberately taking this step to allow for a fundamental discussion about the future development of Thyssenkrupp,” he added.
Writing by Maria Sheahan Editing by David Evans/Keith Weir