November 6, 2019 / 1:24 PM / a month ago

Leoni plans to kick off sale of wire & cable unit in early 2020: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s Leoni (LEOGn.DE) plans to kick off the sale of its wire and cables division early in 2020, not this year, as it continues with restructuring efforts in the face of a weakening sector outlook, people close to the matter said.

While market participants had expected its advisors Deutsche Bank and UBS to launch the auction for the unit this month, Leoni is instead preparing to send out information packages with full-year figures in early 2020, the three sources said.

Private equity firms such as Triton, KPS and Platinum are preparing for the auction, the people said.

Leoni said that it expects the carve-out of the unit accounting for 40% of group sales to be completed in due course. “The announced separation from the division will be implemented in fiscal year 2020,” a company spokesman said.

Triton declined to comment, and KPS and Platinum were not immediately available for comment.

In July, Leoni announced that it was exploring a listing or partial sale of its wire and cable solutions (WCS) business - which supplies the healthcare, factory automation, transport and automotive markets - to pay for planned investment in its wiring systems division (WSD).

Leoni wants to broaden the product range in its wiring systems division to capture a greater share of business from the auto industry, particularly in energy and data management.

Leoni in March abandoned its 2019 profit targets, announced job cuts and the departure of its finance chief and in May said that it was considering all options to secure its long-term financing in the face of an upcoming March 2020 repayment of a 200 million euro note.

In August, it hired a restructuring expert to monitor its ongoing revamp and said it was in constructive talks with its creditors who were supportive of its strategy.

Reuters reported in December that Indian car wiring maker Motherson Sumi (MOSS.NS) was in talks with Leoni over a possible merger, citing people close to the matter, but no deal has materialized.

Motherson Sumi as well as other peers including Huber+Suhner (HUBN.S), Aptiv (APTV.N) and Adient (ADNT.N) are seen as unlikely buyers for the Leoni unit, people familiar with the matter said.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner; Editing by Susan Fenton

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