FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp on Friday strengthened its elevator division with a small takeover in the United States, ahead of a planned listing of the 14-billion euro ($15.6 billion) unit which has failed to revive the conglomerate’s beaten shares.
Thyssenkrupp has been in crisis mode for the past year and only three weeks ago scrapped an old restructuring plan - a spin-off of its capital goods units - in favor of a partial initial public offering (IPO) of its best asset: elevators.
While initially welcomed by analysts and investors, shares in the company on Friday gave up all the gains they made following the strategic announcement in a major blow to Chief Executive Guido Kerkhoff’s efforts to turn around the group.
Shares in the steel-to-submarines group fell as much as 4.1% to 11.285 euros per share, a 22% decline from the 14.40 euros the group’s stock closed at on May 10.
Following three profit warnings, a failed restructuring plan and the collapse of a planned steel merger with Tata Steel, some investors and analysts have doubts that Kerkhoff can pull off the IPO.
“While we receive little pushback on the potential valuation of a standalone Elevators business, the timeline and execution of such a deal remain concerns of investors,” Jefferies analysts wrote this month.
Even though the IPO remains Kerkhoff’s plan A, some investors are hoping for a bidding war for Thyssenkrupp Elevator Technology (ET), the world’s fourth-largest maker of elevators with sales of 7.554 billion euros last year.
Sources told Reuters that Finnish rival Kone, the world’s No.3, was assessing its chances for a bid. Global leader Otis, which is being separated from parent United Technologies Corp (UTC), is also interested.
UTC Chief Executive Gregory Hayes, too, said he expected ET and Otis to hold discussions about a potential combination deal once both divisions have completed their respective separations, according to the Hartford Courant newspaper.
“It makes a lot of sense,” he was quoted as saying.
The United States, where Thyssenkrupp said it bought Nashville Machine Elevator along with its 130 employees, is ET’s biggest market. Last year, it made 40.1 percent of its sales in the Americas.
That puts it ahead of Switzerland’s Schindler, the global No.2, and Kone, which made 20% and 28% of their revenues, respectively, in the region. Otis generated 31% of its sales there, analysts at Jefferies reckon, meaning its absolute sales volume there exceeds Thyssenkrupp’s.
Editing by Thomas Escritt