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

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.


Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

Updated 23 February 2020

Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

DUBAI: Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said said on Sunday the government would work to reduce public debt and restructure public institutions and companies to bolster the economy.
Haitham, in his second public speech since assuming power in January, said the government would create a national framework to tackle unemployment while addressing strained public finances.
"We will direct our financial resources in the best way that will guarantee reducing debt and increasing revenues," he said in the televised speech.
"We will also direct all government departments to adopt efficient governance that leads to a balanced, diversified and sustainable economy."
Rated junk by all three major credit rating agencies, Oman's debt to GDP ratio spiked to nearly 60% last year from around 15% in 2015, and could reach 70% by 2022, according to S&P Global Ratings.
The small oil producing country has relied heavily on debt to offset a widening deficit caused by lower crude prices. Also, the late Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman for nearly 50 years, held back on austerity measures.
The country has delayed introducing a 5% value added tax from 2019 to 2021, and economic diversification has been slow, with oil and gas accounting for over 70% of government revenues.
Last week, rating agency Fitch said Oman was budgeting for a higher deficit of 8.7% for 2020 despite its expectation of further asset-sale proceeds and some spending cuts.
"We are willing to take the necessary measures to restructure the state's administrative system and its legislation," Haitham said in his first speech since the mourning period for Qaboos ended, without elaborating.
He said there would be a full review of government companies to improve their business performance and competence.
Oman observers have said that if Haitham moves to decentralise power it would signal willingness to improve decision making. Like Qaboos, he holds the positions of finance minister and central bank chairman as well as premier, defence and foreign minister.