FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Shares in Kloeckner & Co <KCOGn.DE> soared in premarket trading on Friday after a newspaper said Thyssenkrupp <TKAG.DE> was in talks to buy the metals distributor to strengthen its materials trading business, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Shares in Germany’s Kloeckner were up 18.8% in premarket trading at brokerage Lang & Schwarz by 0552 GMT. Shares in Thyssenkrupp were up 2.2%, making them the biggest gainer in the country’s DAX top-30 index <.GDAXI>.
Thyssenkrupp Chief Executive Guido Kerkhoff, under pressure after a fourth profit warning on his watch sent the group’s shares to a 16-year low, has put a deal to buy Kloeckner & Co at the centre of a turnaround plan he is working on, business daily Handelsblatt said on Thursday.
“This objective is very concrete and has a good chance of being realised,” one source familiar with the matter told Handelsblatt. Thyssenkrupp declined comment while no comment was immediately available from Kloeckner & Co.
Three people familiar with the matter said the groups were regularly talking on a wide range of issues, including consolidation, adding a takeover was currently not in the works.
Thyssenkrupp is banking on the sale or listing of its elevators division to bring in badly needed funds to finance the ailing conglomerate’s turnaround, hit by a weakening economy, a structure seen as too complex and dwindling investor faith.
“Thyssenkrupp has its hands full finding a buyer for its elevator division. Buying Kloeckner is not going to fix its problems,” one of the people said.
Kloeckner, whose shares are trading at decade lows under pressure from weakening industrial demand in Germany and abroad, has for years been the focus of speculation on a possible tie-up with Thyssenkrupp.
Shares in the metals trader, whose market value currently stands at 483 million euros (£438.4 million), soared 16.2% in late Frankfurt trade <KCOGn.F>.
One of the sources said an outright takeover of Kloeckner by Thyssenkrupp was unlikely, adding that if both were to agree on a deal at some point it could take place via a swap, under which Kloeckner would take a minority stake in the combined business.
Thyssenkrupp Materials Services, the conglomerate’s biggest unit by revenues, had sales of 14.65 billion euros in the last financial year, more than twice Kloeckner’s 6.79 billion.
Thyssenkrupp in May unveiled a major restructuring, effectively looking for partners for its business divisions, including Materials Services, where it could sell a minority stake to a strategic partner.
So far, Kerkhoff has struggled to gain traction on his strategic initiatives even as Thyssenkrupp’s financial health deteriorated, narrowing the scope to be acquisitive and raising pressure to liquidate assets, say analysts.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, Tom Kaeckenhoff, Christoph Steitz and Edward Taylor; Additional Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Thomas Escritt)