FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE) will receive first bids for its elevator division this week, three people familiar with the matter said, as major stakeholders differ over whether the conglomerate should sell a majority stake in its most profitable asset.
Finnish rival Kone (KNEBV.HE) will submit an indicative bid for Elevator Technology by Friday, teaming up with private equity firm CVC [CVC.UL], which is poised to buy assets that may have to be divested for antitrust reasons, the people said.
Thyssenkrupp management and labour leaders prefer the sale of a minority stake in the elevator business as a way to retain its cashflow needed to finance 13.4 billion euros ($14.9 billion) in net debt and pension obligations, the people said.
Cevian, Thyssenkrupp’s second-biggest shareholder, with a seat on Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, has argued that selling a majority stake would get a higher price tag for the business and bigger proceeds, they said.
The size of the stake Thyssenkrupp will sell will ultimately be determined by what price and job commitments are offered as well as the certainty of the deal closing, the people said.
The elevator business could command a price tag of 15-17 billion euros, including debt, based on estimates from analysts and financial sources. This compares with Thyssenkrupp’s current market capitalization of about 8.6 billion euros.
Thyssenkrupp said it was proceeding with preparations for a partial listing of the elevator business while also reviewing bids from potentially interested parties, which sources said also included a Blackstone (BX.N) and Carlyle (CG.O) tie-up.
“We support the professional dual track process initiated by management and aimed at identifying the most attractive commercial solution for the elevator division,” Cevian said in a statement.
Ursula Gather, who leads the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach foundation — Thyssenkrupp’s largest shareholder — recently said it would be best if the company kept its stake in the elevator division as high as possible with regard to dividend payouts.
Kone and CVC both declined to comment.
Thyssenkrupp, which has had four profit warnings, is under pressure to bring in fresh liquidity to help the company cope with a cooling economy that will hit its capital goods business, which includes car parts and chemical plants.
Private equity bidders, which sources said would be prepared to buy a minority stake in Elevators, are expected to face lower antitrust hurdles than strategic players, including Hitachi (6501.T).
Reporting by Christoph Steitz, Arno Schuetze, Tom Kaeckenhoff and Edward Taylor; Editing by Tom Sims and Jane Merriman