MILAN, March 18 Italian defence and industrial
group Finmeccanica has launched a new push to sell two
transport units after reaching a deal with Dutch railways over a
dispute involving troubled train-making division AnsaldoBreda,
an Italian trade union said on Tuesday.
On Monday, Finmeccanica agreed with Dutch railways to settle
a dispute over a 400 million euros ($557 million) train contract
in a move that could make it easier for the state-controlled
conglomerate to sell loss-making AnsaldoBreda.
Finmeccanica has been trying to dispose of AnsaldoBreda as
part of a broader asset disposal plan to cut debt.
Finmeccanica has previously said it could combine its
profitable signalling and transportation unit Ansaldo STS
with AnsaldoBreda to create a single transport business
that could attract buyers.
"Management at Finmeccanica has said it is ready to sell its
Ansaldo STS and AnsaldoBreda units and in these last few hours
has been putting them on the market," the UILM trade union said
in a statement.
Trade unions are concerned any sale could lead to job cuts.
Finmeccanica declined to comment.
Netherlands Railways stopped using the high-speed "Fyra"
trains produced by AnsaldoBreda in 2013 saying they were unable
to cope with severe cold weather.
Belgium's railway operator SNCB also cancelled an order for
the same trains for the same reason.
On Tuesday SNCB, which did not actually accept any trains
for delivery deeming them unsatisfactory, said it was still
claiming 40 million euros in damages as a result of failings in
the Fyra's service.
"The news is certainly positive for Finmeccanica since ...
it removes a legal risk to the tune of up to 350 million euros,
facilitating the sale of Breda," Italian broker Intermonte said
of the Dutch settlement.
Last June, the head of AnsaldoBreda said the cancellation of
the train orders by the Dutch and Belgian railways was a major
blow and could complicate any sale.
In February, China Cnr Corporation and Insigma
said they had expressed interest for Ansaldo STS and
($1 = 0.7180 Euros)
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Paolo Biondi; Editing by Mark