Italy backs Finmeccanica plan to sell assets

MILAN, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:36am EDT

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MILAN, March 20 (Reuters) - The Italian government supports plans by Finmeccanica to sell its transportation units and focus on its core aerospace and defence businesses, the finance and industries ministries said in a joint statement.

"The deconsolidation of its transportation activities decided by Finmeccanica represents an essential element for the success of the group's plans," the ministries said in the statement late on Wednesday.

The endorsement is likely to fuel expectations that Finmeccanica may be closer to selling its lossmaking rolling stock unit AnsaldoBreda and its stake in rail signaling affiliate Ansaldo STS.

Finmeccanica is 30 percent owned by the Italian state and needs government backing for sensitive strategic issues like disposals.

Finmeccanica put up for sale its rail units more than two years ago but the process was delayed due to political and trade union opposition to foreign takeovers. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Lisa Jucca and David Holmes)

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