By Christoph Steitz and Matthias Inverardi
FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) – Investor Cevian may seek a second seat on Thyssenkrupp’s <TKAG.DE> supervisory board as the conglomerate’s stakeholders seek consensus over restructuring measures, leadership and strategy, two people familiar with the matter said.
Cevian currently has only one seat on the crisis-ridden company’s non-executive board and may seek an additional position by next January’s annual meeting to better reflect its 18 percent ownership, the sources said.
Thyssenkrupp’s labour representatives, the company’s foundation and activist shareholders are seeking to fill a leadership vacuum that emerged when the chief executive and chairman resigned amid disagreements over strategy.
“There needs to be a common understanding among all stakeholders about the strategic vision for the group,” one of the sources said. “That includes the big shareholders and labour representatives.”
Cevian and Thyssenkrupp declined to comment.
Thyssenkrupp has been in turmoil since the resignation of CEO Heinrich Hiesinger and Chairman Ulrich Lehner in July and a subsequent profit warning, fuelling expectations for deeper structural changes at the group.
Swedish investor Cevian, which has been a Thyssenkrupp shareholders since 2013, has repeatedly called for a broader review of the sprawling steel-to-submarines conglomerate, most notably a more focused holding structure.
An successful overhaul could raise the company’s share price to 50 euros ($56.8), Cevian has said. The shares currently trade at 19.35 euros.
Investors and analysts say that a sale of Materials Services, Marine Systems or a carve out of Thyssenkrupp’s prized elevators business, possibly in a joint venture with Finnish peer Kone <KNEBV.HI>, could be ways to achieve this.
This month Cevian said that any transition should fully consider the interests of employees, offering an olive branch to labour leaders who control half of Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board and fear that activist investors could seek a break-up.
A strategic review, however, might not result in an outright break-up of the group and could involve different strategic options that are not necessarily tied to any change of ownership, the sources said.
The Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach foundation, Thyssenkrupp’s largest shareholder with a 21 percent stake, is represented by two directors on the company’s board.
Cevian’s supervisory board representation could be addressed once a replacement for interim CEO Guido Kerkhoff is found and the vacant chairman position is filled permanently, the sources said.
Daily Boersen-Zeitung earlier on Thursday cited sources close to the board as saying that Cevian was
(Writing by Christoph Steitz and Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Goodman)