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'Not on my watch': Main Thyssenkrupp shareholder opposes group break-up

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'Not on my watch': Main Thyssenkrupp shareholder opposes group break-up
Photo: DPA
10:26 CEST+02:00
German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp's biggest shareholder on Friday strongly opposed calls by activist investors to break up the venerable institution, as it battles through a leadership crisis.

“There will be no break-up of the company on my watch,” Ursula Gather told German news weekly Der Spiegel.

“Job security” and “the principles of the social market economy” took precedence over a desire by some to cash in, she said.

Gather heads the Krupp Foundation, Thyssenkrupp's largest and most influential shareholder with a 21-percent stake in the sprawling group that makes everything from elevators and submarines to car components.

The 207-year-old firm has been in turmoil ever since two bosses quit after clashing with investors pushing for an aggressive restructuring, including the spin-off of the most profitable units.

Chief executive Heinrich Hiesinger quit in early July, shortly after completing a landmark deal merging Thyssenkrupp's steel activities with India's Tata.

Ursula Gather and Ulrich Lehner. Photo: AFP

Supervisory board chief Ulrich Lehner followed him out the door soon after, warning of the “loss of many jobs” if shareholders like Swedish investment firm Cevian and the US hedge fund Elliott got their way.

Union leaders and the German government have also spoken out against attempts to break up Thyssenkrupp, which employs some 159,000 people worldwide and reported revenues of 41.5 billion euros ($48.4 billion) in its 2016-2017 financial year.

“The government is counting on Thyssenkrupp remaining an integrated industrial group,” an economy ministry spokeswoman said this month, urging all sides to work “constructively” towards a solution. 

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