Activist fund Cevian nearly halves stake in Thyssenkrupp

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FILE PHOTO: ThyssenKrupp steel factory in Duisburg

By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Swedish activist fund Cevian has nearly halved its stake in Thyssenkrupp, it said on Tuesday, paring back its holding at a loss after a far-reaching overhaul it had long demanded arrived too late.

Cevian said it had reduced its shareholding in the German conglomerate to 7.9% from about 15% previously, not disclosing the price at which it sold the roughly 43 million shares in the steel-to-submarines group.

Shares in Thyssenkrupp fell 6% on the news.

“Cevian remains one of Thyssenkrupp’s largest investors and will continue to support the company and management in becoming more successful and in creating more value for all stakeholders,” the investor said in response to questions.

Thyssenkrupp’s largest shareholder, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach foundation, said it would stay invested as an anchor shareholder.

Cevian’s offering, run by UBS, launched with price guidance of 10.20-11.29 euros per share, resulting in proceeds of 439 million to 485 million euros ($493 million-$545 million), Refinitiv news service IFR said.

Cevian disclosed investments in Thyssenkrupp in 2013 and 2014. While it did not disclose at what price, shares in the German conglomerate traded at about 17-19 euros at the time, indicating the fund is taking a loss in its latest placement.

Thyssenkrupp declined to comment.

The divestment highlights Cevian’s sobering track record in Germany, which also includes a 26.67% stake in Bilfinger, shares of which have fallen in value since the fund first disclosed a stake in 2011.

Other holdings, including those in Switzerland’s ABB, which makes industrial robots and drives, and Swedish telecoms company Ericsson, have proven to be more successful.

The sale of Thyssenkrupp shares comes after a 30% share price rally this year and reflects the company’s operational improvements after years of losses, including plans to list its hydrogen division in a share sale next year.

“The most recent results presented by Thyssenkrupp and the share price rise show that the turnaround is bearing fruit,” Cevian said.

(Reporting by Christoph SteitzEditing by Louise Heavens, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and David Goodman)

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