Finmeccanica to vet offers for energy unit on Wednesday

ROME/MILAN Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:12am EST

1 of 3. Finmeccanica Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi attends a convention in Rome December 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Remo Casilli

ROME/MILAN (Reuters) - State-owned defense group Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI) will look at offers for its power engineering unit AnsaldoEnergia at a board meeting on Wednesday but is in no rush to sell at any cost.

"I want a good sale, not a rushed one," its Chairman and CEO Giuseppe Orsi told reporters in Rome on the sidelines of an event on Tuesday.

Finmeccanica, burdened by 4.8 billion euros ($6.3 billion)of net debt, must raise 1 billion euros from asset sales in the coming months to avoid a credit downgrade that would undermine its prospects at a time of widespread defense spending cuts.

Genoa-based AnsaldoEnergia, which employs 3,000 people and which is 55 percent owned by Finmeccanica, has attracted a 1.3 billion euro offer from larger German rival Siemens (SIEGn.DE), as well as interest from state-backed fund FSI and Korean industrial group Doosan (000150.KS).

FSI made a binding offer for a minority stake on Monday, sources said. Reports have said FSI's bid gives AnsaldoEnergia an enterprise value of 1.25 billion euros.

One source familiar with the situation said last week Doosan had asked for more time to look at AnsaldoEnergia.

Shares in Finmeccanica rose more than 2 percent to a two-month high on expectations a deal could be close. After Orsi's remarks, the stock pared gains and were up 1.5 percent at 4.268 euros.

Orsi said the Italian government crisis was not affecting the timing of the disposal. "It's a process that today is in the hands of Finmeccanica and its board, we are bringing it forward," he said.

The prospect of a sale to Siemens has raised widespread domestic opposition among unions and politicians, concerned that the German group could cut jobs and close plants.

The remaining 45 percent stake of AnsaldoEnergia is in the hands of U.S. investment fund First Reserve.

Finmeccanica, which is also in talks to sell its 14 percent stake in aerospace supplier Avio, has also put up for sale its non-core transport assets such as loss-making AnsaldoBreda and its stake in Ansaldo STS (STS.MI).

(Reporting by Paolo Biondi, Luca Trogni, Danilo Masoni and Andrea Mandala; Editing by David Holmes)