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Thyssenkrupp considers spin-off of troubled steel business

Thyssenkrupp is considering a spin-off of its ailing steel business, as shareholders seized on another possible solution for a division that has dogged the company.

The former conglomerate has been trying to carve out a future for the unit since EU competition regulators blocked a tie-up with India's Tata in 2019.

Potential mergers with Sweden's SSAB and domestic rival Salzgitter have been mooted, though neither company has expressed an interest. UK industrial tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has launched a bid, which the company is assessing. Workers' representatives have objected to the approach from Mr Gupta's Liberty Steel, fearing job losses.

Thyssenkrupp's willingness to explore spinning off the business comes as the outlook for the steel industry shows tentative signs of brightening. Global carmakers, the division's biggest customers, are enjoying a rebound, while steel prices have shot higher in recent weeks.

Having an independently listed steel unit would make it easier for potential suitors to buy into the business in the event that a sustained recovery made the division more attractive, people familiar with the matter said.

Thyssenkrupp said on Monday that independently developing the steel business, which lost almost €1bn last year, remained an option.

After selling its prized lift and escalators business last year for €17.2bn, Thyssenkrupp is not strapped for cash. A decision on the steel division, which employs roughly 27,000 people, is expected in the spring.