The government of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to engineering and steel group Thyssenkrupp, has come out in favour of the group`s planned merger of its European steel operations with those of Tata Steel.
"The potential merger with Tata is an opportunity to tie up with a strong partner in Europe," the state`s Economy Minister Andreas Pinkwart, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, said in a parliamentary session on Wednesday.
Members of the state`s previous government, a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens, had voiced criticism over the planned merger, warning of a potential loss of influence over corporate decisions that could affect jobs.
Fearing that thousands of jobs could be cut as a result of a tie-up, unions have called on the new government to seek influence at Thyssenkrupp`s largest shareholder, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation.
"The position that state intervention in corporate decisions is a no-go supports a strategy that is driven by financial markets, and the people are being let down," Knut Giesler at IG Metall, Germany`s largest trade union, said.
Thyssenkrupp`s supervisory board will meet on Sept. 24 to discuss the planned joint venture, Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger`s preferred option to restructure the group`s steel business, whose roots go back more than 200 years.