* Draft deal values Ansaldo Energia 1.2-1.4 bln euros-source
* Italy government has opposed sale of Ansaldo Energia
* Deal cannot go through without government ok
* Finmeccanica shares suspended, up 5.68 percent
(Adds comment from Finmeccanica)
By Massimo Gaia
MILAN, Sept 4 Italy's Finmeccanica has
reached a preliminary agreement to sell a majority stake in
power unit Ansaldo Energia to South Korea's Doosan Heavy
Industries, a source with direct knowledge of the
situation told Reuters.
The draft deal places an enterprise value of between 1.2
billion euros and 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion) on the whole
of Ansaldo Energia, which produces gas turbines and employs
about 3,000 people in Italy.
"Ansaldo Energia has its partner and it's Doosan," the
source told Reuters, adding that the deal still needed Italian
Finmeccanica said in a statement later on Wednesday it had
not yet signed a binding agreement in ongoing talks to sell
Ansaldo Energia, without naming a buyer.
More than one year ago Finmeccanica, Italy's second largest
employer, singled out Ansaldo Energia among the assets it wanted
to sell to cut its debt pile.
But the defence and aerospace group has struggled to carry
out the planned sales due to political opposition to foreign
takeovers as a protracted economic crisis forces many Italian
entrepreneurs to put their businesses on the block.
Finmeccanica is 30 percent owned by the Italian state and
needs government backing for sensitive strategic issues like
Last week, Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato reiterated he
was against selling Ansaldo Energia and other Finmeccanica
assets, preferring instead partnership agreements.
The planned deal, the source told Reuters, envisages Doosan
buying a 45 percent stake held by U.S. fund First Reserve in
Ansaldo Energia. Finmeccanica or another Italian investor,
possibly the state-backed Italian Strategic Fund (FSI), would
keep a minority stake which could be reduced.
"Talks are at an advanced stage. Finmeccanica will initially
keep around 30 percent in Ansaldo Energia and then gradually
reduced it," a second source briefed about the talks said.
Finmeccanica controls 55 percent of Ansaldo Energia, with
the rest in the hands of First Reserve. The U.S. fund bought its
stake a couple of years ago for around 500 million euros.
The companies involved had no immediate comment.
Shares in Finmeccanica rallied on the news and were
suspended after rising 5.68 percent to 4.13 euros.
($1 = 0.7601 euros)
(Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni, Editing by Luca Trogni,
Elaine Hardcastle and David Evans)