Workers want proper concept in Thyssenkrupp’s ‘disastrous’ steel M&A talks

ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) – Labour leaders at Thyssenkrupp on Tuesday slammed the German conglomerate’s CEO for failing to present a convincing plan in ongoing negotiations with Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky over a partial sale of the company’s steel division.

“This is a disastrous process,” said Knut Giesler, head of IG Metall in North-Rhine Westphalia, where Thyssenkrupp is headquartered, following a meeting between CEO Miguel Lopez and worker representatives during which he took questions around the plans.

Thyssenkrupp is currently in talks to sell half its steel division to Kretinsky and could clinch a deal already this month, hoping to rid itself of a cyclical business after numerous previous attempts to divest the division failed.

“We demand an industrial concept,” Giesler said, adding that only then would worker representatives, who have substantial clout at the company, agree to a partial sale of what is Germany’s largest steelmaker.

Past attempts to sell or divest Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe have all failed, including a spin-off of the business, a sale to Britain’s Liberty Steel and a joint venture with Tata Steel.

Labour leaders said they would keep open the door to talks if certain conditions, including job and site security, were met, adding the right proposal could be swiftly approved if needed.

“We want data, figures, facts,” said Tekin Nasikkol, head of Thyssenkrupp’s works council and a member of the company’s supervisory board.

(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Christoph Steitz; editing by Matthias Williams and Miranda Murray)