By Danilo Masoni
MILAN Oct 4 Finmeccanica said it had
agreed to sell power unit Ansaldo Energia to an Italian
state-backed fund, a deal that will help the company cut debt
and focus on its core aerospace, defence and security
Finmeccanica, one of Italy's largest employers, put the gas
turbine maker and other assets up for sale two years ago but
political meddling slowed the process, prompting downgrades to
junk of its 5 billion euro ($6.80 billion) debt pile.
The operation agreed on Friday envisages state-backed lender
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, through its Fondo Strategico Italiano
fund, buying 85 percent of Ansaldo Energia in 2013 and the rest
via a put and call option in 2017, for 777 million euros.
Under the deal, Finmeccanica will initially retain 15
percent of Ansaldo Energia and cash in 273 million euros, while
U.S. fund First Reserve will sell its entire 45 percent holding
The transaction also includes an earn-out worth up to 130
million euros, linked to economic results already laid out in
Ansaldo Energia's business plan.
South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries and German
group Siemens had also been in the running to buy the
Genoa-based firm but opposition by local politicians and trade
unions to foreign takeovers derailed their attempts.
Looking forward, Finmeccanica is expected to pursue talks
with CDP to sell its loss-making train unit AnsaldoBreda and its
40 percent stake in rail technology firm Ansaldo STS,
which had attracted interest from foreign industrial groups
Hitachi and General Electric.
Two sources familiar with the situation said Finmeccanica
CEO Alessandro Pansa aims to complete those sales before his
mandate expires in April 2014, paving the way for a further
reduction of its debt.
A streamlined structure would help Finmeccanica complete its
restructuring process and free it to set its sights on any
possible consolidation in the European defence industry.
Shares in Finmeccanica ended up 0.6 percent at 5.23 euros on
Friday, giving the company a market value of about 3 billion
euros. In the last month, shares have risen 33 percent on
expectations of an imminent deal to sell Ansaldo Energia.