(Adds details, comment)
MILAN, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Finmeccanica shares rose 3 percent on Friday after a newspaper reported that a long-awaited sale of the Italian defence group’s loss-making AnsaldoBreda business was getting closer.
Finmeccanica Chief Executive Alessandro Pansa has said the group was trying to combine its profitable Ansaldo STS unit with train maker AnsaldoBreda to create a single transport business that could attract buyers.
Finmeccanica, in which the state owns a 30 percent stake, put its rail and other non-core assets up for sale nearly two years ago to cut debt and focus on aerospace and defence.
Daily la Repubblica reported on Friday that a plan, to be unveiled by the end of February, envisaged the spin-off of AnsaldoBreda’s healthy assets. These would be transferred to a new company called InMove Italia together with a minority stake in Ansaldo STS.
InMove Italia would then be sold to state holding Cassa Depositi e Prestiti while what was left of AnsaldoBreda would turn into a “bad company” to be gradually liquidated. Finmeccanica declined to comment.
“The news is unconfirmed but seems credible,” a broker said asking not to be named.
“It would be positive for Finmeccanica as it would get rid at least in part of AnsaldoBreda while for STS it is not good news because the sale of a minority stake pushes forward the prospect of a buyout offer for the whole company.”
By 0947 GMT shares in Ansaldo STS were 3.4 percent lower in trading volumes above the 30-day daily average. Italy’s blue-chip FTSE MIB index was up 1 percent.
Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Erica Billingham