DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE) workers oppose the idea that the German industrial group could be the junior partner in a possible steel joint venture with India’s Tata Steel (TISC.NS), group works council chief Wilhelm Segerath told Reuters on Monday.
Thyssenkrupp and Tata have been in discussions since last year to combine their European operations in a joint venture to remove overcapacity from the market and cut costs, and had so far said to be planning a 50-50 venture.
But on Sunday, German business daily Handelsblatt reported that Thyssenkrupp aimed to hold less than half of the potential venture so it can deconsolidate the business from its balance sheet.
“I don’t believe in a minority stake. We reject that idea,” Segerath said, adding that such a move would make the steel business entirely dependent on a foreign investor whose intentions for jobs and sites were uncertain.
Labour bosses at Thyssenkrupp have long opposed a possible merger of the two companies’ European steel businesses, fearing such a deal would destroy jobs without making the business more sustainable.
Thyssenkrupp’s steel works council chief, Guenter Back, said last month that finance chief Guido Kerkhoff had said the company would decide by the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year, which runs through September, whether to proceed with a merger.
Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Maria Sheahan; editing by Susan Thomas