Sun, Mar 09, 2003 - Page 11 News List

ThyssenKrupp not at Germany's big showcase event

BLOOMBERG , HANOVER, GERMANY

ThyssenKrupp AG turned down attendance at this year's industrial trade fair in Hanover, Germany, as the country's largest steelmaker seeks to rein in costs and focus on smaller shows.

It's the first time in more than 50 years that none of ThyssenKrupp's divisions will be present at the Hannover Messe.

The holding company made a last appearance in 2000 and has since sold the pavilion it owned at the venue, said Erwin Schneider, a spokesman for ThyssenKrupp's steel division.

"There's not much in it for us anymore," Schneider said in a telephone interview. "The show is too broad, too big and there is money to be saved by not showing up."

ThyssenKrupp's retreat highlights the efforts by industrial companies to cut costs as new orders to the plant and machinery industry decline. The German economy, which stagnated in the fourth quarter, last year expanded at its slowest pace in a decade and only exports prevented a recession.

Machinery orders placed by German companies dropped 10 percent in January from a year ago, while foreign orders rose 5 percent, the VDMA machinery industry trade association said last month. Adjusted for inflation, machinery orders fell 1 percent.

ThyssenKrupp had its credit rating cut to below investment grade by Standard & Poor's last month on concern about the cost of retirement payments for employees. The rating downgrade will cost an extra 20 million euros (US$22 million) in interest payments, ThyssenKrupp said.

Linde AG and Jungheinrich AG, Germany's two largest makers of forklifts, won't be at this year's Hanover show either because they only attend every third year. Linde has no plans to retreat from the fair altogether, spokesman Klaus Schoenfeld said.

Hannover Messe, which started in 1947, is the industry's biggest showcase for new products, focusing on factory automation, power transmission, industrial information technology and energy.

Companies from 60 countries will be represented and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder opens the event on April 6.

Attendance at the fair has fallen to 6,200 exhibitors this year from 6,500 exhibitors in 2001, organizer Hannover Messe AG said. More than half of all exhibitors are German companies, including ThyssenKrupp's rival, Salzgitter AG.

"These are difficult economic times, so it's no surprise that some companies are looking to cut costs by canceling their attendance," said Inga Buss, a spokeswoman for Hannover Messe.

Companies attending the show must pay for the space they rent -- costing 171 euros per square meter -- as well as for constructing their stands, hiring staff and inviting guests.

ThyssenKrupp paid ``more than a million'' euros for its stand at the Hanover fair in past years, Schneider said.

Rather than showing up at the Hanover trade fair, ThyssenKrupp has instead opted for trade shows like the Baumesse construction fair in Munich or the Frankfurt auto show, where the company can build ``better contacts,'' Schneider said.

ThyssenKrupp was formed five years ago from the merger of rivals Thyssen AG and Fried. Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp and both companies attended the fair since it started.

Krupp built a pavilion at the Hanover fair in 1955, where it ladled out potato soup to guests, while the arch spanning the Hanover pavilion of Thyssen unit Rheinstahl AG inspired the company to make an arch its own company logo.

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