UPDATE 1-GE interested in Italian rail company Ansaldo STS

Fri Sep 6, 2013 11:12am EDT

CERNOBBIO, Italy Sept 6 (Reuters) - General Electric Co is interested in buying Italian rail technology company Ansaldo STS, the head of the U.S. group in Italy said, in a further expansion of its presence in the country.

GE bought the aviation business of Italy's Avio for $4.3 billion last year in a sign of confidence about the underlying strength of Europe's fourth-biggest economy despite a deep recession.

"Should the will to sell (Ansaldo STS) emerge, it's a dossier we are interested in looking at," Sandro De Poli told Reuters on the margins of a business gathering in Cernobbio.

"They do exactly the same things as we do, investments need to be done in view of expansion," he added.

Ansaldo STS, which is 40 percent owned by aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica, has previously also attracted interest from Japanese group Hitachi.

Finmeccanica singled out Ansaldo STS among the assets it wanted to sell to cut its debts more than a year ago but it has struggled to carry out the planned sales due to political opposition to foreign takeovers.

Shares in Ansaldo STS rose more than 5 percent after the remarks before slightly paring gains. By 1446 GMT, Ansaldo STS was up 2.5 percent at 6.92 euros.

GE, whose businesses range from infrastructure technology to financial services, also owns Nuovo Pignone, an Italian producer of equipment for the oil industry, which it acquired in 1993.

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