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Liberty says door open for Thyssenkrupp steel unit deal

Published on February 18, 2021

Liberty Steel Group said Thursday that the door is still “open” for the potential purchase of the steel activities of troubled German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp.

The news came one day after Thyssenkrupp had declared that it was no longer considering selling its steel unit to Liberty, which is owned by Indian-British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta.

“Discussions have been suspended at this stage due to differences in pricing expectations — however we are keeping the door open,” a Liberty spokesperson said, noting the announcement from Thyssenkrupp.

“Liberty remains confident that it has put forward the only long term sustainable plan for Thyssenkrupp’s steel business and we will continue to engage to seek to eliminate the valuation gap in due course.”

The brief statement came after Thyssenkrupp ended talks with Liberty on Wednesday, declaring that the two sides were too far apart on corporate value and the structure of the transaction.

The German titan indicated it would instead hold on to the steel unit, saying it would focus efforts on addressing “the consequences of the corona pandemic and to make steel sustainably profitable and thus future-proof.”

Thyssenkrupp, in the throes of a painful restructuring, had received an offer from Britain’s Liberty Steel last October but had not formally responded to it before Wednesday’s statement.

The Essen-based group has long been looking for a solution for its Steel Europe arm, which has been battered by years of cheap Chinese competition and oversupply.

However, steel demand has risen in recent months thanks to pent-up demand following Covid-19 lockdowns, which closed factories and disrupted supply chains worldwide.

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