Salzgitter CEO rules out German steel merger with Thyssenkrupp

A German steel merger between Thyssenkrupp and Salzgitter has been rejected by Salzgitter’s CEO Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann in an interview, the content of which was confirmed by Salzgitter to S&P Global Platts Sept. 10.

A tie-up between the two German companies has been the preferred option for Thyssenkrupp union members and employees as Thyssenkrupp searches for a partner or buyer for the struggling steel unit.

Fuhrmann however put an end to the discussions in a Reuters interview, saying there would not be any “advantages” in a merger and that even Thyssenkrupp as the biggest German steel producer and Salzgitter as the third biggest German steelmaker combined would not become a “champion” on the global steel market.

Salzgitter has repeatedly stressed the need for consolidation in the European steel market due to excess capacity while steel demand was stagnant, but said it would not be involved in any talks.

An option for future cooperation would however be the production of low CO2 pre material. Fuhrmann highlighted there would not be current plans to cooperate, but Salzgitter would be “open for meaningful approaches”.

Salzgitter and Thyssenkrupp currently own semis producer HKM together with France’s Vallourec.

Thyssenkrupp announced a revival of a possible steel merger in May without disclosing who the potential partners were. Merger talks between Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel collapsed in 2019 and were seen as unlikely to be restarting as long as it remains uncertain what will happen to Tata’s Port Talbot mill in Wales.

Thyssenkrupp’s major shareholder Cevian endorsed Swedish steelmaker SSAB for a takeover or partnership with Thyssenkrupp earlier in July, saying the company would be “best suited” for the steel unit. Market speculations and media reports have been mounting ever since with sources saying that SSAB would be a likely — but not necessarily popular — candidate for a possible tie-up.

— Laura Varriale