FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German industrial group Thyssenkrupp aims to hold less than half of a steel joint venture it wants to set up with Tata Steel so it can deconsolidate the business from its balance sheet, Handelsblatt reported, citing a company source.
Thyssenkrupp and Tata have been in discussions since last year to combine their European operations in a joint venture to remove overcapacity from the market and cut costs, and had so far said to be planning a 50-50 venture.
Negotiations for a deal have been hampered by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and concern over Tata’s pension deficit in Britain. A source close to Thyssenkrupp had said a deal in May to separate Tata’s 15 billion pound ($19.4 billion) UK pension scheme still left many questions unanswered.
Thyssenkrupp’s operations are mainly in Germany, while Tata’s are in Britain and the Netherlands.
Handelsblatt said in a summary of an article to be published on Monday that Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger and Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata group’s holding company Tata Sons, are to hold talks this month.
Thyssenkrupp declined to comment on the report. Tata was not immediately available for comment.
Thyssenkrupp’s steel works council chief, Guenter Back, said last month that finance chief Guido Kerkhoff had said the company would decide by the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year, which runs through September, whether to proceed.
According to Handelsblatt, many questions remain to be discussed as the two companies had not yet had a chance to look at each others’ books.
Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Additional reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, editing by Louise Ireland and David Evans