December 16, 2015 / 5:30 PM / 4 years ago

Airbus shortlists Carlyle, KKR for electronics unit sale: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Airbus Group (AIR.PA) has shortlisted Carlyle (CG.O) and KKR (KKR.N) for the defence electronics unit it is selling, after the two U.S. buyout groups put in significantly higher offers than rivals, three people familiar with the matter said.

A man makes a phone call next to the logo of Airbus Group in southwestern France, April 25, 2014. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

German defence group Rheinmetall (RHMG.DE) as well as a consortium comprising peer OHB (OHBG.DE) and Cinven have been told they did not make the short list, the people added.

Carlyle and KKR declined to comment. Airbus was not immediately available.

The sale is part of a plan by Airbus to dispose of assets with combined revenues of around 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), following a strategic decision to focus on civil and military aeronautical and space assets in the face of low defence spending in Europe.

It lacks the scale of rivals in defence electronics.

Airbus had said on Tuesday it was on the verge of selecting a final candidate for the unit and expected a decision by the end of the month.

A fourth source familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday that a selection had not yet been made.

Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace group, is aiming to focus its defence division on warplanes, missiles, launchers and satellites.

The defence electronics business, which has annual EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of 90 million euros, could fetch a price of up to 1 billion euros, sources familiar with the deal have said.

One of the sources said KKR’s and Carlyle’s bids were considerably more than 100 million euros higher than those of stra‎tegic players.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Jonathan Gould and Mark Potter

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