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ThyssenKrupp says keeping its European steel unit

The headquarters of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG are seen in Duisburg November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
The headquarters of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG are seen in Duisburg November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's ThyssenKrupp is holding on to its Steel Europe business, a company spokesman said on Saturday, responding to speculation that a sale could help its current restructuring efforts.

"We've always said that we want to keep the steel business," the spokesman said.

German magazine Focus, citing no sources, reported that ThyssenKrupp Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger had told an internal leadership meeting it was wrong to believe that a sale of the European business could support the company.

According to the report, he added that a divestment would not yield a reasonable price in the current economic environment.

Hiesinger in August dismissed any speculation on a possible sale of Steel Europe as "nonsense", but such talk has resurfaced due to the conglomerate's weakening finances.

ThyssenKrupp, which has suffered three straight years of losses and racked up debts, is trying to move away from a bulk steel market, hit by weak demand and overcapacity, to more profitable products such as elevators and factory components.

In February, ThyssenKrupp said it wanted to cut 500 million euros ($684.2 million) in costs over the next three years at its Steel Europe operations, which could lead to about 14 percent of the division's workforce leaving the company.

(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; editing by Jane Baird)

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