Finmeccanica expects to close transport units sale by mid-Oct. - CEO

RIMINI, Italy Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:36am EDT

RIMINI, Italy Aug 25 (Reuters) - Italian defence group Finmeccanica expects to complete a delayed deal to sell its rail transport business by mid-October, Chief Executive Mauro Moretti said on Monday.

Finmeccanica has been trying to sell cash-strapped train division Ansaldo Breda and profitable signalling business Ansaldo STS for three years to reduce a group debt of 4.8 billion euros ($6.33 billion).

Asked on the sidelines of a conference in the eastern Italian seaside town of Rimini when the deal should be completed, Moretti said: "By October, the middle of October."

Moretti said he did not know about the offers received, as he had not yet been back to his office after the summer holiday.

Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier and Japan's Hitachi are the front-runners to buy the units, ahead of three other groups that are expected to bid, sources close to the sale plans said earlier this month.

On Aug. 1, Moretti, who took over at the helm of Finmeccanica as part of a broad shake-up of state-owned firms in May, said he expected offer for the rail units by the end of August, a month later than planned. (1 US dollar = 0.7580 euro) (Reporting by Paolo Biondi, writing by Isla Binnie)

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