State leader named to board of main ThyssenKrupp shareholder

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Dec 11 (Reuters) – The chief minister of Germany's state of North Rhine-Westphalia has been elected to the board of the foundation that is the largest shareholder in engineering group ThyssenKrupp, it said on Monday.

The election for a seven-year term of Armin Laschet, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, comes as ThyssenKrupp seeks to diversify away from its traditional focus on steel.

"The membership is not tied to the position of chief minister. It is the individual who is elected, as with all other members," the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation said in a statement.

The foundation controls more than 20 percent in ThyssenKrupp, which has agreed to merge its steel operations with those of India's Tata Steel and is focusing on growth areas like elevators and auto components.

Labour leaders have urged the state government to take a more active interest in ThyssenKrupp to minimise possible job losses that may result from the steel merger.

The state's previous chief minister, Social Democrat Hannelore Kraft, was a member of the Krupp foundation board but stood down after losing an election in May.

(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Adrian Croft)