Thyssenkrupp's losses widen on virus lockdowns

© Agence France-Presse

Industrial giant Thyssenkrupp was already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic hit

Berlin (AFP) - Beleaguered German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp said Thursday that its losses widened in the third quarter as a result of plant closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The steel-to-submarines group, already struggling before the pandemic hit, said in a statement that it booked a net loss of 678 million euros ($800 million) in the three months to June.

That was much wider than a loss of 94 million euros a year earlier, but narrower than the 948-million-euro loss recorded in the preceding three months. 

"Thyssenkrupp's performance in the first nine months of the current fiscal year was significantly impacted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic," the statement said.

"As a result of temporary plant closures at customers, production in many areas came almost to a halt at the start of the third quarter."

Thyssenkrupp, which runs its business year from October to September, said that incoming orders fell to 6.7 billion euros in the third quarter from 10.2 billion euros a year earlier. 

Thyssenkrupp said its materials and components business, a major supplier to the automotive industry, was particularly hard hit by coronavirus lockdowns that kept factories and dealerships closed for weeks on end. 

The group also said it faced ongoing challenges in the steel business "in an already difficult general market environment." 

Thyssenkrupp's historic steel operations have long grappled with oversupply and competition from China.

However, the sale of its lucrative elevator unit for 17.2 billion euros in February will enable the group to book "significantly positive" net earnings for the year as a whole, Thyssenkrupp said.

"While we are now seeing signs of stabilisation, the forthcoming restructurings and cleaning up of the balance sheet will continue to weigh on earnings in the current quarter," said chief executive Martina Merz.

"With the proceeds from the elevator transaction we can now at last systematically address overdue measures," she said. 

On the Frankfurt stock exchange on Thursday, Thyssenkrupp's shares were showing a loss of 15 percent.