Finmeccanica, CDP heads meet as talk of Ansaldo Energia sale mounts

MILAN Tue Oct 1, 2013 7:37pm EDT

MILAN (Reuters) - The heads of Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI) and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti met on Tuesday at the office of Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letto, a spokesman for his office said on Tuesday, as speculation mounted that the defense group is stepping up efforts to sell its power unit, Ansaldo Energia.

Alessandro Pansa, who took over as chief executive of state-controlled Finmeccanica earlier this year, has pledged to sell assets to help reduce debt.

More than one year ago Finmeccanica, Italy's second-largest employer, singled out Ansaldo Energia among the assets it wanted to sell.

Two sources told Reuters last week that CDP, led by CEO Giovanni Gorno Tempini, was close to making a bid for a stake in the unit.

Finmeccanica is also talking to South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries (034020.KS) about selling part of its stake, which is 45 percent owned by U.S. fund First Reserve.

"Things are accelerating ... The Finmeccanica board could be convened this week to discuss the state of play on Ansaldo in which Finmeccanica could keep a marginal stake," a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Finmeccanica declined to comment.

Trade unions said in a statement on Tuesday that they had met Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato, who told them it made no sense to sell Ansaldo Energia to foreign buyers.

Other sources close to the matter said the sides at the meeting with the prime minister also discussed the stake Finmeccanica owns in signaling group Ansaldo STS (STS.MI) and transport unit Ansaldo Breda.

On Sunday Letto said the government was interested in helping to create an Italian transport pole.

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; additional reporting by Alberto Sisto; Editing by Prudence Crowther)

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