Swiss elevator manufacturer Schindler would begin on an all-out antitrust offensive in the courts to stall any deal to combine Thyssenkrupp’s lift unit with competitor Kone.
His feedback came a day after the due date for binding bids for Thyssenkrupp Elevator, which Finland’s Kone and three personal equity consortia wish to buy in a deal sources say could be worth 17 billion euros ($18.6 billion).
A merger of Kone and ThyssenKrupp Elevator would form the world’s largest lift manufacturer, leapfrogging the market leader Otis, which is owned by United Technologies’, and Schindler, currently in second place worldwide.
Thyssenkrupp refused to comment.
Once a symbol of Germany’s industrial energy, Thyssenkrupp is grappling with 12.4 billion euros of debt and pension liabilities after years of ill-fated investments and needs to raise cash from its prized elevator unit.
Thyssenkrupp plans to decide on what it will do with the business by the tip of February. Besides a full or partial sale, it is also pursuing plans for an IPO, although sources stated this was becoming less likely.
While an obvious sale to Kone would probably raise the most money for the beleaguered conglomerate, Thyssenkrupp is worried it might spark antitrust investigations in a number of markets where the merged firm might become a dominant participant.
If Kone is chosen, the deal is anticipated to result in lengthy antitrust evaluations in Europe in addition to the U.S., which might result in the sale of some assets to competitors to safe regulatory consent.