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Business

ThyssenKrupp sacks managers amid graft, cartel allegations

German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp has dismissed three senior managers involved in a series of scandals about luxury travels, price fixing and mismanagement. The reshuffle is dubbed a "fresh start" for the struggling firm.

The contracts of management board members Olaf Berlien, Edwin Eichler and Jürgen Claassen would all be terminated as part of an effort to promote necessary changes in ThyssenKrupp's leadership system and corporate culture, the German steelmaker said Wednesday.

Claassen, who was in charge of communication and anti-corruption policy, is currently being investigated for misappropriation of company funds after making private luxury trips at the expense of ThyssenKrupp.

Olaf Berlien was in charge of ThyssenKrupp's technology division, including the firm's growing elevator business. Charges of price fixing in the elevator market brought the German steelmaker a multi-million-euro penalty from EU anti-trust regulators.

Edwin Eichler was responsible for ThyssenKrupp's steel business. He is blamed for grossly miscalculating the costs of two new steelworks, built by the company's Steel Americas operations in the US and Brazil.

In a statement, Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger described the sackings as a "clear signal" to both the general public and the company's staff.

Underlining the need for a "fresh start" at ThyssenKrupp, the labor representative on the board, Bertin Eichler, told German news agency DPA that the steelmaker needed the trust of clients and staff in the face of the huge challenges ahead.

ThyssenKrupp is currently restructuring its portfolio, attempting to shed much of its loss-making steel operations in favor of its more profitable elevator and engineering business. However, losses are expected to mount this year as the company is facing a huge multi-billion-euro writedown from the two Americas steelworks, which it is trying to sell off.

uhe/msh (dpa, AFP)

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