International Steel Mills

Thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel Merger Moves a Step Closer

Written by Sandy Williams

Thyssenkrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger told analysts this week that the Tata merger would be an important milestone for the company, but other options are available if it doesn’t occur. The German CEO hopes to concentrate on Thyssenkrupp’s diversified industrial portfolio by folding its steel business into a joint venture with India’s Tata Steel.

Hiesinger said he didn’t want to be pressed for a timetable, stressing the quality of the deal was more important than the timing. “For us, it’s quality before time,” he said. “We won’t give you an exact time frame because it takes as long as it takes. We will do what is needed. You can be sure that we would like to get it rather sooner than later.”

Heisinger may get his wish for “sooner than later.” New developments on Friday may clear the way for the merger.

Holding up the deal is Tata’s search to find funding for the $19 billion pension deficit for its UK employees. On Friday, Aug. 11, Tata Steel received approval from The Pensions Regulator, the UK’s regulator of workplace pensions, to pay $713 million into the British Steel Pension Scheme, as well as giving it a 33 percent equity stake in Tata Steel UK Ltd.

Tata said the regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA) will offer more “sustainable outcomes” for pensioneers and employees. Upon completion of the RAA, members of the BSPS could remain in the scheme or transfer to a new one that will be sponsored by Tata Steel UK.

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of TPR, said: “We do not agree to these types of arrangements lightly, but after several months of robust negotiations in this case, we believe it is the best possible outcome for everyone involved in what is a very difficult situation.”

“This proposal brings greater certainty for pension scheme members and unlocks the possibility of restructuring the company, which in turn could lead to preserving jobs,” added Titcomb.

Formal approval of the plan is expected by The Pensions Regulator in 28 days if it is not disputed by any stakeholders.

Thyssenkrupp told Reuters on Friday that it will need to closely examine the pension agreement before making a merger decision.

Latest in International Steel Mills