FRANKFURT German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp (TKAG.DE) plans to sell its U.S. and Brazilian mills separately for at least the book value, which is about 7 billion euros ($8.8 billion), its chief executive has told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
ThyssenKrupp plunged to a net loss last year, hit by the cost of expansion in Brazil and the United States, which has backfired amid weakening demand and rising material prices.
The group is now slimming down to cut debt and focus on its European heartlands and, having sold its stainless steel division and its super-yachts business, is looking at selling other assets including Brazilian and U.S. mills.
It put its 73-percent stake in the Brazilian mill and its brand-new U.S. flat-rolled carbon steel mill in Alabama up for sale in mid-May after years of struggling with delays and cost overruns.
"We may need two separate buyers, one for each plant," ThyssenKrupp's Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Hiesinger said in May ThyssenKrupp would offer the Brazilian plant to its partner Vale (VALE5.SA), which owns about a quarter of the slab-producing plant venture, but will also talk to possible buyers in Asia.
"We at least want to fetch the current book value of the mills, which currently is around 7 billion euros," Hiesinger told Welt am Sonntag in the comments published on Sunday.
Analysts doubt whether both mills are worth that much. They calculate a value of 3-4 billion euros, expecting further write-downs.
Analyst have also tipped ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS, U.S.Steel (X.N), Hebei (000709.SZ), Baosteel (600019.SS) and POSCO (005490.KS) as potential buyers of the assets.
POSCO has said in June it would look at the Brazil mill.
($1 = 0.7989 euros)
(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff and Harro ten Wolde; editing by Patrick Graham)