ThyssenKrupp Scraps Payout, Takes Huge Writedown on Americas

Monday, 10 Dec 2012 03:41 PM

 

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ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, won’t pay an annual dividend after posting a second straight yearly loss, including a 3.6 billion-euro ($4.7 billion) writedown on its Steel Americas unit.

The net loss widened to 4.7 billion euros in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the Essen-based company said Monday in a statement on its website. The year-earlier loss was 1.29 billion euros.

The steelmaker paid a 45-euro-cents-a-share a dividend for the year-earlier period. It’s the first year without a payout since at least 2002, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Waning demand from the auto and construction industries has pushed down steel prices and squeezed producers’ profit margins. ThyssenKrupp, hurt by losses at plants in the U.S. and Brazil, is cutting its number of business units to five from eight and expanding non-steel operations to weather the slowdown.

ThyssenKrupp said last week it ousted three top executives to repair a boardroom tainted by the ill-fated expansion in the Americas and corruption allegations. Olaf Berlien, Edwin Eichler and Juergen Claassen will leave at the end of the year, according to the company, which said Monday the supervisory board had agreed to the governance changes.

“With the changes on the executive board, the supervisory board has sent out a clear signal for a fresh start,” Chief Executive Officer Heinrich Hiesinger said in Monday’s statement. “We are systematically establishing a new leadership culture based on honesty, transparency and performance orientation.”

Other European steel companies have also reported mounting pressure on profit from the slump in demand and lower prices. Salzgitter AG, Germany’s second-largest steelmaker, cut its earnings forecast on Nov. 5, while ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest producer, posted its lowest quarterly profit in almost three years on Oct. 31.

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