Exclusive: Thales poised to sell signaling unit to Hitachi for about $2 billion – source

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of French defence and electronics group Thales is seen at the company’s headquarters in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

August 3, 2021

By Gwénaëlle Barzic

PARIS (Reuters) – French firm Thales is in advanced negotiations to sell its railway signaling business to Japan’s Hitachi for nearly 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion), a source familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

A spokesman for Thales, contacted by Reuters, declined to comment. A representative of Hitachi’s European operations did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the deal was scheduled to be announced within the next few days.

Thales put its signaling business up for sale earlier this year.

The sale is part of a drive by the French firm to streamline its sprawling operations and reassure investors it is focused on its core business of making high-tech equipment for the defence and aerospace industries.

The signaling unit is small compared with competitors, and the sale comes at a time of consolidation in the industry when independent players are aligning themselves with bigger industrial groups.

Reuters reported last month that Thales had shortlisted three bidders for the unit: Hitachi Rail, Switzerland’s Stadler Rail and Spain’s CAF.

Thales was advised on the sale by Lazard, while Hitachi’s advisors were Perella Weinberg Partners and Deutsche Bank, according to the source familiar with the discussions.

($1 = 0.8427 euros)

(Additional reporting by Matthias Blamont; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by David Holmes)





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