Thyssenkrupp Cuts 11,000 Jobs as Steel Woes Worsen Cash Burn

Thyssenkrupp AG will cut 11,000 jobs, roughly 10% of its workforce, as the conglomerate’s beleaguered steel business hemorrhages cash and Germany’s government bickers over a possible rescue.

The steel and materials group almost doubled the number of positions it plans to eliminate after recording a 5.5 billion-euro ($6.5 billion) net loss for the year that ended in September. The company forecast another more than 1 billion-euro deficit for the current period in a statement Thursday.

“We will have to move further into the ‘red zone’ before we have made Thyssenkrupp fit for the future,” Chief Executive Officer Martina Merz said. “The next steps could be more painful than the previous ones. But we will have to take them.”

Thyssenkrupp shares fell as much as 7.6% in Frankfurt trading. The stock has plunged more than 60% since the start of the year.

Thyssenkrupp Cuts 11,000 Jobs as Steel Woes Worsen Cash Burn

Once synonymous with German industrial prowess, Thyssenkrupp is now fighting for survival. Its steel division faces severe problems with yawning pension deficits and cheap imports from Asia. The end game for the company is likely to involve a mix of asset sales, restructuring and the ignominy of a taxpayer bailout.

Management has held talks with potential buyers and merger partners for the steel unit to help address chronic overcapacity. They’re also in discussions with the German government over an aid package that could be worth at least 5 billion euros, people familiar with the negotiations said last week.

With a workforce of more than 100,000, Thyssenkrupp remains a systemically important employer to politicians in its home state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It’s endured a tumultuous few years marked by a string of management departures and clashes with activist investors Cevian Capital AB and Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp.

The conglomerate sold its prized elevator division earlier this year for 17.2 billion euros in a bid to buy time to restructure other parts of the business. It now has about 13.2 billion euros of cash and undrawn credit lines.

Excluding proceeds from the elevator sale, Thyssenkrupp burned through 5.5 billion euros in the last fiscal period, triple its prior-year outflow. It’s forecasting another 1.5 billion euros of negative free cash flow over the next 12 months.

“The outlook for next year is still pretty dire,” said Ingo Schachel, senior analyst at Commerzbank.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

ThyssenKrupp’s guidance for a cash burn of 1.5 billion euros in fiscal 2021 isn’t surprising -- given the extent of the restructuring underway at the group, with a further 5,000 job cuts announced during full-year (ended September) 2020 results -- yet the number is higher than consensus and our own scenario analysis, highlighting the execution risk in pulling off a turnaround.

-- Grant Sporre, BI metals and mining analyst

Click here to read the research

The Essen-based company said it needs to cut more than the 6,000 jobs planned in May 2019 because of long-term market developments and effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thyssenkrupp expects to make a “fundamental” decision in the spring on a solution for its steel business, which swung to a 946 million-euro loss in the last fiscal year. The full group’s adjusted deficit before interest and taxes was 1.6 billion euros.

Although the company expects sales growth in the low- to mid-single-digit range after a 15% contraction last year, it expects an adjusted Ebit loss in the mid-three-digit million-euro range.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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