Thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel sign landmark steel joint venture deal

The joint venture forms the core of Thyssenkrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger’s, above, plan to turn his steel-to-submarines conglomerate into a technology company. (Reuters)
Updated 30 June 2018
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Thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel sign landmark steel joint venture deal

  • It is the largest deal in Europe’s steel industry since the takeover of Arcelor by Mittal in 2006
  • The deal comes as European steel makers face tariffs of 25 percent on their exports to the US, their biggest market

FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF: Germany’s Thyssenkrupp and India’s Tata Steel signed a final agreement on Saturday to establish a long-expected steel joint venture, the European steel industry’s biggest shake-up in more than a decade.
The final agreement comes after months of negotiations since an initial agreement was announced in September. Both companies hope it will help them respond to challenges in the volatile steel industry, including overcapacity.
The largest deal in Europe’s steel industry since the takeover of Arcelor by Mittal in 2006, the 50-50 joint venture — to be named Thyssenkrupp Tata Steel — will have about 48,000 workers and about €17 billion ($19.9 billion) in sales.
Based in the Netherlands, it will be the continent’s second-largest steelmaker after ArcelorMittal. It forms the core of Thyssenkrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger’s plan to turn his steel-to-submarines conglomerate into a technology company.
“The joint venture not only addresses the challenges of the European steel industry,” Hiesinger said. “It is the only solution to create significant additional value of around 5 billion euros for both Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel due to joint synergies which cannot be realized in a stand-alone scenario.”
Tata Steel Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran, in a separate statement, said the joint venture will create “a strong pan- European steel company that is structurally robust and competitive.”
The deal comes as European steel makers face tariffs of 25 percent on their exports to the US, their biggest market. That might force local market to absorb more volume as a result.
Since the tariffs were announced in late May, shares in European steelmakers ArcelorMittal, Thyssenkrupp, Salzgitter and Voestalpine have lost 8 to 17 percent.
Hiesinger had faced pressure from activist shareholders Cevian and Elliott to extract more commitments from Tata Steel, whose European business has performed worse than Thyssen’s since the agreement was first announced, creating a valuation gap.
Thyssenkrupp said the deal included “proper compensation” for the gap, which it said was in the mid-triple-digit million- euro range: if the joint venture makes a widely expected initial public offering it would get a bigger share of the proceeds.
Thyssenkrupp said it also secured the right to decide when a listing might take place, adding the joint venture was aiming for a dividend payout in the low-to-mid-triple-digit million- euro range.
The German group also said it now expects annual synergies of €400 million to €500 million from the transaction. It said additional synergies were possible through managing capital expenditure and optimizing working capital.
Tata Steel will remain liable for environmental risks in Britain, where its Port Talbot factory, the least profitable of the joint venture, is based, said Markus Grolms, vice chairman of Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board.
He also said that Tata Steel’s Dutch unit would be part of the joint venture’s cash-pooling mechanism. That had been a key demand for German workers concerned that Tata would give its own workers better conditions in the new company.
“Yes, we do want to protect people. But we also want a company with better chances and less risks,” Grolms said.
Thyssenkrupp’s management will present a refined strategy to its supervisory board in the second week of July. Sources said that may include a sale of its Materials Services unit and further cost cuts.


Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

Updated 23 March 2019
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Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

  • Firms under pressure to explain how greener laws will hit business models

PARIS: The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
Two of the companies — Shell and Chevron — said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.
“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic program of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.
“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”
The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.
As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit their highest levels in human history in 2018, the five companies wracked up total profits of $55 billion.
At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change — composed of the world’s leading climate scientists — issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.
InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.

 

It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.
“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.
It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.
The report came one day after the European Parliament was urged to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access, after the US giant failed to attend a hearing where expert witnesses said the oil giant has knowingly misled the public over climate change.
“How can we accept that companies spending hundreds of millions on lobbying against the EU’s goal of reaching the Paris agreement are still granted privileged access to decision makers?” said Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher, who was not involved in the InfluenceMap report.
The report said Exxon alone spent $56 million a year on “climate branding” and $41 million annually on lobbying efforts.
In 2017 the company’s shareholders voted to push it to disclose what tougher emissions policies in the wake of Paris would mean for its portfolio.
With the exception of France’s Total, each oil major had largely focused climate lobbying expenditure in the US, the report said.
Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.
AFP contacted all five oil and gas companies mentioned in the report for comment.
“We disagree with the assertion that Chevron has engaged in ‘climate-related branding and lobbying’ that is ‘overwhelmingly in conflict’ with the Paris Agreement,” said a Chevron spokesman.
“We are taking action to address potential climate change risks to our business and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
A spokeswoman for Shell — which the report said spends $49 million annually on climate lobbying — said it “firmly rejected” the findings.
“We are very clear about our support for the Paris Agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy,” they told AFP.
BP, ExxonMobil and Total did not provide comment to AFP.

FACTOID

$ 28m

Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.