November 8, 2014: Finmeccanica keen to stem losses at train-maker AnsaldoBreda
REUTERS: Italian defense group Finmeccanica would prefer to use a tender process for a possible sale of its Ansaldo STS rail technology business, part of plans to stem losses from the group's train division.
The state-controlled group is trying to combine profitable Ansaldo STS with loss-making train-maker AnsaldoBreda to create a single transport business which could attract buyers, Chief Executive Alessandro Pansa said during an analysts call on Friday, adding that all options were on the table.
Pansa said the company would find a solution for AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS jointly or separately and said he would prefer to sell Ansaldo STS through a tender process rather than entering into talks with just one suitor.
Finmeccanica, in which the state owns a 30 percent stake, put its rail and other non-core assets up for sale nearly two years ago to cut debts and focus on aerospace and defence.
Last month, trade unions said Italy was in talks to bring in General Electric or another foreign company as a majority investor in AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS.
But the company, Italy's second-biggest employer, has struggled to carry out its disposal plans due to political opposition to foreign takeovers. Delays to asset sales have prompted credit ratings agencies to downgrade the company to junk.
Finmeccanica said on Thursday it would miss its core earnings target for the year because of ongoing problems at its AnsaldoBreda unit.
The CEO said: "We believe it is necessary to act firmly and promptly to minimize the absorption of cash by AnsaldoBreda from the group."
As part of a strategy to tackle problems at its transport business, Pansa said AnsaldoBreda would deliver on existing contracts while making sure new orders would generate profits….
Finmeccanica, which reported a net loss of 73 million euros in the third-quarter, said it expects to post a full-year profit thanks to proceeds from its Ansaldo Energia disposal….
November 18, 2014: Hitachi makes offer for AnsaldoBreda--Deal may be worth a reported 1.4 billion euros
November 18, 2014: With only one bidder left in the race for AnsaldoBreda, Finmeccanica might extend the deadline
Italy 24 Ore: The entire Finmeccanica Group is in the red, in the first nine months it reported a net loss of €57 million, less than the €165 million loss in the same period of 2013 -- because this year there were fewer extraordinary provisions (one-time items fell from €225 million to €33 million).
Last week, another group interested in AnsaldoBreda dropped out of the race - the Chinese consortium with China CNR Corporation and Insigma. The muscle behind the consortium, giant state-owned CNR, told Finmeccanica that it wasn’t interested in the deal anymore. Insigma would still be, but it can’t make an offer on its own and is looking for other private partners in China. If the sale process were to be extended, Insigma may try to put together another offer.
Initially the offers for Breda were supposed to be submitted in October. Some sources say it’s possible the deadline for binding offers will be extended one more time.
Hitachi has been examining in depth certain contracts made by Breda for train construction, and is said to have asked Finmeccanica for additional information.
November 28, 2014: Finmeccanica extends deadline for Ansaldo Breda bids
Italy 24 Ore: State-controlled defense group Finmeccanica's board has granted a request made by China's Insigma for more time to represent a binding offer for transport unit Ansaldo Breda, which Insigma intends to make alongside engineering and manufacturing group Xinzhu from Chengdu….
All of this to say that the terms for the presentation of binding offers will be extended by at least a couple of weeks.
The only offer that has arrived so far is the one from Japan's Hitachi, which is non-binding, however. Hitachi is said to have made some reservations and raised some questions with Finmeccanica, and is still waiting for a reply.
The delay in the presentation of the offers could also serve to add pressure on the Japanese, whose perplexity seems to regard some of Ansaldo Breda's contracts and the risk of penalties for any delays, in particular one for €1.5 billion with state owned railways group Ferrovie dello Stato for 50 convoys of the new train ETR 1000.
Finmeccanica sources say talks with potential buyers have reached an advanced stage. And these talks, probably, include Insigma, which is interested in Ansaldo Breda. According to Reuters, even Insigma has asked for more details about Ansaldo Breda.
LINK: Finmeccanica Press Releases