* Top shareholders support deal
* Deal seen risky but necessary
* Shareholder meeting starts at 1000 GMT
HELSINKI, March 1 (Reuters) - Finnish group Outokumpu’s shareholders were set to approve a 2.7 billion euro ($3.6 billion) buy of ThyssenKrupp’s stainless steel business on Thursday, a deal aimed at boosting profitability and fending off Asian rivals.
The deal for Inoxum, expected to close by the end of 2012, will make Outokumpu Europe’s No. 1 stainless steel producer, up from its current No.4 spot in the area where rivals include Aperam -- spun off by ArcelorMittal last year -- and Acerinox.
The acquisition will be partly funded by a 1 billion euro right issue of new Outokumpu stock. It will also take on liabilities of 422 million and issue a loan note of 235 million to ThyssenKrupp.
Finnish state investment agency Solidium as well as shareholders KELA and Ilmarinen have already committed to subscribe to 37 percent of the rights issue.
Other shareholders were expected to agree as well, despite some rumbling over the price and uncertainty over how quickly the deal would turn profitable.
“In a business sense the deal is good. It was starting to appear, more and more, that Outokumpu would not have done well alone,” said Swedbank analyst Erkki Vesola.
The company’s bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss of 71 million euros underscored its need for change. Analysts have said the tie-up will help it improve margins, slash costs and cut some overcapacity.
Outokumpu has said it aims to achieve cost synergies of between 225 million and 250 million euros by 2017 at the latest.
The shareholders’ meeting is due to begin at 1000 GMT in Helsinki. ($1 = 0.7450 euros) (Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)