The new owners of Thyssenkrupp Elevator have no plans to slow down a massive $200 million test tower and headquarters project in metro Atlanta, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to present headwinds for the global economy.
Private equity firms Advent International and Cinven led an international consortium that closed on the deal July 31 for 17.2 billion euros (about $20.4 billion).
The transaction had initially be announced in February, yet work has continued uninterrupted on the Cobb County test tower known as the International Qualification Center and an adjacent office complex at The Battery Atlanta that will house the company’s North American headquarters. Some 900 employees are expected to move in during early 2022, including new hires and Thyssenkrupp workers already joining from other metro-area locations where leases will not be renewed.
Construction on the tower is scheduled to be completed by next summer; in the meantime, time-lapse animations and a live feed of the progress is visible on the Thyssenkrupp Elevator website — or from the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s windows. The core of what will be the county’s tallest building was completed in May. A glass exterior to be added later will allow external viewing of the elevators as they undergo testing.
For Thyssenkrupp AG, the group, which has reinvested as a minority shareholder in the elevator business, the windfall helped reduced debt and free up cash as it moves ahead in restructuring other existing businesses like steel, automotive parts, bearings, materials and more.
The industrial giant lost nearly $2 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year; sales for the most recent quarter were down 15 percent versus the previous year.
“With the proceeds from the elevator transaction we can now at last systematically address overdue measures,” CEO Martina Merz said. The company noted it would retain the greatest flexibility possible in the use of the funds in light of COVID-19, while reinvesting in units with short-term profit potential and paying off some debt.
Thyssenkrupp Elevator CEO said Peter Walker, meanwhile, said in a news release that the new ownership will provide the newly independent company resources to fund innovation efforts and research, along with geographic expansion and strategic acquisitions.
“Our new main shareholders, Advent and Cinven, have already shown huge determination and commitment to the business during the completion of the traction,” Mr. Walker said in a release. “We have every reason to look to our independent future with ambition and optimism.”
Thyssenkrupp Elevator already ranks in the top four elevator and escalator providers in the world, with operations in more than 100 countries and global revenues of about $9.5 billion annually.
But the the new owners plan to invest further in new international growth and in the industry disruption the company has already begun with products like the TWIN, in which two cars occupy the same shaft, or the MULTI, the world’s first laterally moving elevator. It’s also working on digital services and Internet of Things deployment, including the MAX package enabling customers to use data to drive better service, real-time updates and preventive maintenance.
Thyssenkrupp Elevator on Aug. 17 joined the executive council of the Business Analytics Center at Georgia Tech‘s Scheller College of Business, the latest in a line of collaborations between the company and the university.
The Cobb County tower will be integral in testing and qualifying new technologies and configurations — as a bonus, it will also have an event venue at the top with city views, “as well as a digital showroom, software lab, engineering offices and training facilities,” according to the company.
Learn more and see a rendering of the finished project in this story: Thyssenkrupp to Build $200 Million HQ and Elevator Test Tower in Cobb