MILAN Italian defence conglomerate Finmeccanica SIFI.MI said on Thursday it has opened the data room of its loss-making train unit AnsaldoBreda to potential bidders, without naming them, and also announced a revamp of its corporate structure.
Finmeccanica put AnsaldoBreda and its profitable rail technology subsidiary Ansaldo STS (STS.MI) up for sale more than two years ago, but political meddling and a series of corruption scandals have delayed the process, triggering a downgrade to junk status of the group's 3.3 billion euros in debt.
The appointment of Mauro Moretti, a veteran rail executive, as Finmeccanica's chief executive earlier this year had fuelled speculation the group could backtrack from the sale plans, weighing on its share price, which underperformed the market with a loss of over 7 percent in the last three months.
"The board took note of the communication provided by the chief executive and director general Mauro Moretti relating to the due diligence processes under way for AnsaldoBreda, aimed at allowing all interested parties to access information," the company said in a statement.
Moretti is also seeking to transform the state-controlled group into a more integrated aerospace and defence group.
Finmeccanica also said its previously separated defence and aerospace units would become divisions of the main company, signalling it is moving away from being a financial holding of operating companies ahead of an expected consolidation of the aerospace and defence sector.
The group said its two rails units, a space joint venture with France's Thales, missile maker MBDA and U.S. defence electronics company DRS would not be transformed into divisions under the reorganisation of the group.
The reorganisation, which the group said will be carried out throughout 2015, would make Finmeccanica more similar to its international competitors and help the heavily indebted Italian company cut costs, analysts said.
On Wednesday, Finmeccanica denied a newspaper report that said it planned to incorporate Ansaldo Breda, indicating Moretti would go ahead with the sale pursued by his predecessor Alessandro Pansa.
On Thursday Finmeccanica shares rose 3.9 percent to 6.51 euros, giving the company a market capitalisation of more than 3.6 billion euros.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Leslie Adler)