Exclusive: Hitachi in talks to sell its signaling business

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Exclusive: Hitachi in talks to sell its signaling business

PARIS - Japanese firm Hitachi is in advanced negotiations for Thales to sell its railway signaling business for nearly 1.7 billion euros a source with intimate knowledge of the talks told Reuters.

A spokesperson for Thales, contacted by Reuters, declined to comment on the matter. A representative of Hitachi's European operations did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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

Thales put its signaling business into stock earlier this year.

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

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

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

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