Thyssenkrupp splits under pressure from activists

CONGLOMERATES hold a natural appeal for bosses, who fancy themselves capable of managing any number of businesses under one corporate roof. At least in rich countries, investors are sceptical about such bluster. They have long applied a discount to the shares of diversified companies against those of rivals focused on doing one thing and one thing only. Thyssenkrupp, born of the merger of two German conglomerates in 1999, has bowed to frustrated shareholders: on September 30th it said it would split in two. The 17% jump in its share price when the news was announced, though short-lived, will surely spur investors to take on other ungainly corporate structures.

As a purveyor of steel, submarines, robots, lifts and much else besides, thyssenkrupp is as unwieldy as they come. A new strategy announced in 2011 drifted along until the summer when both its chief executive and chairman were ousted. The firm has done little in a decade when its German peers surged. Radical surgery could no longer be delayed.

It is not alone in reaching this conclusion. Across the Atlantic, GE’s troubles are well known (see article). Voluntary amputation has taken place at a number of European firms. In August Whitbread, which mainly runs hotels, agreed to sell its Costa coffee shops to Coca-Cola for $5.1bn....

via Business Feeds

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