August 2, 2017 / 11:39 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Thyssenkrupp works council chief says not pushing for a break up

* Works council chief unaware of any break up deliberations

* Thyssenkrupp has been in talks with Tata about steel JV

* Works council and trade union oppose Tata JV plan (New throughout)

By Georgina Prodhan

FRANKFURT, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp’s works council is not pushing for a break up of the group, its leader said on Wednesday, after a newspaper reported trade union IG Metall was keen to explore such a move as an alternative to a steel merger with Tata.

“I’m not aware of any such deliberations,” Wilhelm Segerath told Reuters after the report in the Boersen-Zeitung newspaper said the German industrial group was mulling a break up.

He added the works council - which is close to, but not always aligned with, IG Metall - was not pushing the idea of a split. “It’s the management that is responsible for exploring options,” he said.

Segerath sits on Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, which has to sign off on strategic decisions and is half composed of labour representatives.

Thyssenkrupp has been in talks with Tata for about a year and a half about merging their European steel operations to cut costs and overcapacity. Negotiations have been hampered by Tata’s large steel pension liabilities in Britain.

Trade unions and the works council that represents company workers are opposed to such a joint venture, which they fear will cost jobs. Thyssenkrupp has signalled it will decide one way or the other by the end of the summer.

In the meantime, the idea has been floated by an unnamed investment banker - also cited by Bloomberg on Wednesday - that Thyssenkrupp could spin off most of its other activities instead and keep European steel.

The Essen-based group also makes elevators, submarines and car parts, among other things.

A Thyssenkrupp spokeswoman declined to comment on that specific option, but said the company continually looked at strategic alternatives. She said talks with Tata continued.

Thyssenkrupp shares briefly rose as much as 3 percent. By 1050 GMT, they were down 0.9 percent at 25.32 euros.

Segerath reiterated his opposition to the planned steel joint venture, which he dismissed as “balance-sheet cosmetics”. (Editing by Ludwig Burger and Mark Potter)

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