* Comments squash ongoing speculation
* Cevian owns 18% stake, second-largest investor
* Also voted against dividend payment in 2017 (Recasts, adds context)
FRANKFURT, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Swedish fund Cevian, which holds an 18% stake in Thyssenkrupp, has never demanded a special dividend from the ailing conglomerate, a spokesman told Reuters, squashing speculation about such a move.
The spokesman said that Cevian, Thyssenkrupp’s second-largest shareholder, had previously participated in two capital increases and voted against proposals to pay a dividend in 2017 to improve the group’s balance sheet.
Cevian, which first disclosed a stake in Thyssenkrupp six years ago, has long criticised the group’s complex structure, which spans capital goods ranging from elevators to submarines, arguing that individual units could thrive better on their own.
Labour representatives in recent weeks said that workers, who control half of Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, would oppose any plans for a special payout, given the group’s stretched balance sheet and weak operating performance.
Speculation among workers and investors of such a demand had been fuelled by Thyssenkrupp’s plan to sell all or parts of its elevators division, which has been valued between 12 billion to 17 billion euros ($13.1-18.5 billion).
A day earlier, Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, which includes Cevian representative Jens Tischendorf, unanimously approved the appointment of Chairwoman Martina Merz as the group’s interim chief executive. ($1 = 0.9179 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)