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ThyssenKrupp abandons Iran

ThyssenKrupp on Thursday became Germany's latest corporate giant to announce it was pulling out of Iran as part of Western pressure on the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme.

ThyssenKrupp abandons Iran
Photo: DPA

Germany’s largest steelmaker said it would not enter into any new contracts with Iranian customers, with immediate effect, going beyond existing international sanctions focused primarily on Iran’s oil and gas sector.

“By halting business with Iran we are supporting the sanction policies of Germany, the European Union and the United States,” ThyssenKrupp said. “Existing Group interests in Iran are to be terminated as quickly as possible.”

A spokesman for ThyssenKrupp said that the amount of business it did in Iran was “marginal”, representing less than €200 million ($265 million), or 0.5 percent of annual turnover.

Germany was until recently the world’s biggest exporter, selling €3.7 billion worth of goods to Iran alone in 2009. But it has come under pressure for its commercial ties as one of the six powers negotiating with Iran.

At the beginning of the year engineering giant Siemens and insurers Munich Re and Allianz said they were pulling out. Industrial gases firm Linde followed suit earlier this month.

The German government has also reduced to a trickle special export guarantees crucial to firms trading with Iran.

Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed solely at producing electricity but the international community suspects that Tehran wants to arm itself with atomic weapons.

Iran has signalled a new willingness to engage the international community over its nuclear programme. But so far it has failed to meet the terms for talks, and its defiance triggered new UN Security Council sanctions in June.

AFP/mry

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STEEL

German steel giant rejects ‘high cost’ state support

German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp on Friday rejected state participation to support it during the pandemic, an option favoured by unions but judged too costly by management.

German steel giant rejects 'high cost' state support
Thyssenkrupp's offices in Duisberg. Photo: Ina Fassbender / dpa / AFP
“State participation off the table,” Klaus Keysberg, the group's financial director, told the German daily Rheinische Post on Friday.
   
Keysberg blamed “high costs” in the long term of government assistance, “due to the interest payments and the terms of repayment.”
   
Already weakened by years of cut-price competition from China in the steel industry, Thyssenkrupp has further struggled with the effects of the pandemic that caused business activity to plunge.
   
The company said in mid-November it would cut an additional 5,000 jobs as part of its restructuring plan, bringing the total to nearly 11,000, to be spread out over several years.
 
   
Thyssenkrupp chief executive Martina Merz has not ruled out state assistance.
   
The powerful IG Metall union had organised rallies in October to demand a rescue plan from Berlin.
   
But the government was never enthusiastic, despite their acquisition of stakes in the airline Lufthansa and tour operator TUI, which also had business ravaged by Covid-19.
   
“I don't believe that nationalisation is the right response at the moment,” Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in October on Thyssenkrupp.   
 
But national and regional governments favour more traditional aid structures, such as subsidies, or moves to convert to production of so-called green steel.
   
Discussions will continue to find alternatives.
   
A takeover of Thyssenkrupp's steel activities is still on the cards. British steel giant Liberty, founded by industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, launched a takeover bid in October.
   
Discussions are also underway with Sweden's SSAB and India's Tata Steel.
   
An alliance with fellow German steelmaker Salzgitter to create a national steel champion is also being considered. But these options won't be decided until “spring 2021”, Thyssenkrupp said.
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