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Thyssenkrupp mulls separation of major businesses: Sources

Thyssenkrupp is considering a major structural overhaul which involves a separation of individual business units, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The group which makes elevators, submarines, industrial plants and automotive components, has been under pressure to simplify its sprawling conglomerate structure, and could make a decision on the matter as soon as this week, the people said.

No formal agreement has been reached, and talks could still fall apart, the sources said. Thyssenkrupp’s financial year ends on Sunday, 30 September.

“Things are in a state of flux and there are different scenarios,” one of the people said, declining to be more specific.

Shares in the group rose as much as 9 percent on the news to hit a seven-week high. Shares in Finland’s Kone, which has been considered a potential partner or suitor of Thyssenkrupp’s elevator business, also traded up 2.7 percent.

“The individual parts are worth more separately than under the group’s roof, which is why the stock is reacting so strongly,” a trader said.

Thyssenkrupp declined to comment.

The group has been in crisis-mode ever since the sudden departure of both its chief executive and chairman in July, bowing to pressure from shareholders that have long demanded a significant improvement in the group’s operating performance.

“Expectations for such a restructuring move, which would raise the company’s value, had been priced out after the leadership crisis,” another equity trader said.

Thyssenkrupp has in the past said it wants to focus on strengthening its capital goods business, which comprises elevators, car parts and plant engineering, and last year raised about EUR 1.4 billion (USD 1.64 billion) to do it.

Analysts estimate that Thyssenkrupp’s elevator unit has a higher valuation on a standalone basis than the group’s current market capitalisation, which stands at EUR 13.3 billion.

Thyssenkrupp’s strategy evaluation comes as rival conglomerates including Siemens and General Electric are slimming down their businesses.