German industrial group ThyssenKrupp is close to closing a deal to build steering systems in a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler, an industry source told the Reuters news agency on Friday.

Reuters, citing its source, said Thyssen will take a 60% stake in the joint venture with Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Lenkungen GmbH steering business while Daimler will hold the remaining 40%, although Thyssen will have an option to buy out the rest of the stake in 2005.

“On the time frame, it may be done in the next couple of weeks or so,” the source told Reuters, though gave no financial details.
DaimlerChrysler and ThyssenKrupp both declined to comment, Reuters noted.

A union representative told Reuters in February that the management of both companies had signed letters of intent and said the deal would affect around 350 jobs. It was unclear whether there would be any job losses, the report added.

According to Reuters, ThyssenKrupp, under pressure from credit rating agencies and investors to cut debt and boost profits, has pledged to accelerate a programme of selling off weaker units while buying potential growth businesses to expand its steel, vehicle parts and elevator operations.

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