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The bidding war for Thyssenkrupp’s elevator technology business just got hotter

Engineering firm Kone Oyj raises the ante and joins three other suitor groups that have made multibillion dollar offers.

January 31, 2020 |

This cutaway shows MULTI, Thyssenkrupp's innovative sideways elevator system, which it introduced in 2017. Thyssenkrupp is considering several bids for its Elevator Technology business unit. Image: Thyssenkrupp

Last May, Germany based Thyssenkrupp decided to divide itself into two separate companies as part of a major restructuring effort. That strategy called for spinning off its profitable Elevator Technology business unit via an Initial Public Offering or by putting that unit up for sale.

Elevator Technology, in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2019, generated 907 million Euro (US$1 billion) in cash flow from 7.96 billion Euro in net sales, both up around 5% from the previous year. Thyssenkrupp’s total revenue, just under 42 billion Euro, was up only 1%, and the company reported a 260 million Euro net loss on top of a 12 million Euro loss the previous fiscal year.

Thyssenkrupp, as a corporation, is also groaning under 8.5 billion Euro in pension obligations and 5.1 billion Euro in net debt.

The Elevator Technology unit—which made waves a few years ago with MULTI, the industry’s first sideways-moving elevator transport system—has since drawn interest from at least four investor groups, including one that includes Finnish engineering firm Kone Oyj and CVC Capital Partners, which last week reportedly made a non-binding offer of 17 billion Euro. Bloomberg reports that Kone gave Thyssenkrupp the option of receiving all cash or a combination of cash and stock for the elevator business. And to mollify regulators over any antitrust issues, Kone said it would hand the Elevator Technology operations in Europe to CVC.

Last year, regulators scotched Thyssenkrupp’s attempt to forge a joint venture between its Steel Europe business unit and Tata Steel Ltd.

Last November, Reuters reported that Kone proposed paying Thyssenkrupp a multibillion-euro breakup fee (reportedly the equivalent of US$3.3 billion) to improve its position in the company’s auction of its elevator unit.

The other investor groups vying to acquire Thyssenkrupp’s Elevator Technology unit reportedly include a consortium of Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Advent International, Cinven and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority form another investor group. And Brookfield Asset Management partnered with Temasek Holdings Pte to bid. These offers reportedly were all under 16 billion Euro, but suitors will have the opportunity to adjust their bids next month.

Thyssenkrupp has also disclosed that it plans to put its plant-building unit—which makes chemicals, cement, and fertilizer plants—on the auction block, possibly selling the division in parts.

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