Hot rolled steel moves along a conveyor at the Tata Steel Ijmuiden BV plant (Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)

Thyssenkrupp, Tata Said to Offer Selling Plants in U.K., Spain

(Bloomberg) -- Thyssenkrupp AG and Tata Steel Ltd. have offered to sell assets in Belgium, Spain and the U.K. to win antitrust approval for a European steel joint venture, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The two companies proposed divesting two automotive steel plants in Spain and Belgium to meet demands by European regulators, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the offer isn’t public. The companies may also sell a U.K. steel operation, but plan to keep the main Port Talbot mill, the person said.

The two companies are working to ease concerns flagged by European regulators that the combination of their European steel operations would have too much control over market supply and prices. The European Commission is expected to review the proposal and make a decision by June 5.

“As we see it, our proposals cover all the concerns expressed by the Commission,” Thyssenkrupp Chief Executive Officer Guido Kerkhoff said in an emailed statement.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reported details about the asset sales on Monday.

Asset sales outside of Germany may satisfy demands by Thyssenkrupp’s labor leaders that the joint venture won’t cause job losses in Germany. Union representatives at the company control half of all votes on the supervisory board and would fiercely oppose concessions that cut German steelworkers.

The plan to create a European steel company jointly owned by Germany’s Thyssenkrupp and India’s Tata “raised several issues,” the EU said last year when it opened an in-depth probe into the transaction. These were related to the supply of galvanized steel for cars and car parts, metallic-coated steel for food and aerosol cans and steel used for transformers and other engineering products.

Only four European companies currently provide steel to the auto industry: ArcelorMittal, Thyssen, Tata and Voestalpine AG. The merged entity, under the proposed name of Thyssenkrupp Tata Steel B.V., would focus on high-quality flat steel production.

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