Wulff was expected to be greeted by new ThyssenKrupp boss Heinrich Hiesinger at the plant in Rio, but cancelled at the last minute because he heard of the new plans from other sources.
Germany’s biggest steel manufacturer said it will reduce its turnover by around a quarter, meaning a loss of around 35,000 of its 177,000 jobs around the world.
This would have been impossible to ignore had Wulff gone to the plant, which cost €5 billion to build, the largest investment in the company’s history. Despite this massive cost, the factory, which opened last summer, has already attracted €2 million in fines for pollution incidents.
Wulff’s visit was intended to draw a line under this and the controversy over unexpectedly high construction costs of the plant. It is expected to product five million tons of steel a year for export.
The president had been on a week-long South America tour with his wife Bettina, having already visited the Mexican and Brazilian heads of state but was expected to head home on Saturday, a day early.