FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) – Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE) is nearing a full sale of its elevator division, three people familiar with the matter said, adding this would result in maximum proceeds that are needed as net debt has soared in the last quarter.

The sale, potentially Europe’s biggest private equity transaction in 13 years, is entering its final stretch, with two buyout consortia in a neck-and-neck race to buy what is the world’s fourth-largest lift maker.

Under the deal, Thyssenkrupp, which is aching under 7.1 billion euros of net debt and an equity ratio of 5.4%, will likely sell all of Elevator Technology to realize the highest valuation of about 16 billion euros ($17.3 billion), the people said.

There is a small chance that the group could retain a minority stake in the business, the people said, adding the likelihood of that happening had decreased in recent weeks.

Thyssenkrupp declined to comment.

Reporting by Edward Taylor, Christoph Steitz, Arno Schuetze and Tom Kaeckenhoff; editing by Thomas Seythal

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