Schneider Said to Consider Partial Sale of Sensors Unit to Avago

Schneider Electric SA, the French maker energy-control products such as circuit breakers, is considering selling a sensors unit in parts to make the asset more attractive, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Schneider has resumed talks with Avago Technologies Ltd, which may buy the business excluding some assets in France, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The sale may fetch about $800 million, and Schneider would seek to sell the rest of the custom sensors & technologies division later, one of the people said.

Anthime Caprioli, a spokeswoman for Schneider, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Avago in Germany. Exclusive talks between Schneider and Avago broke down about two months ago because Avago wasn’t interested in the French plants of CST, one of the people said at the time.

CST, based in Moorpark, California, makes sensors that react to changes in pressure or temperature and are used in industries including transport, aeronautics, construction, energy and manufacturing.

In 2010, the last year for which Schneider published earnings for CST before folding it into its industry unit, the business had an operating margin before one-time items of 16.4 percent on 433 million euros ($543 million) of sales. Schneider first considered a sale of the division before the 2008 global recession, people familiar with the plan said last year.

Created through acquisitions in the last decade, CST employs about 4,700 people and had $660 million in revenue last year, according to its website. In 2005, Schneider bought sensors maker BEI Technologies Inc. for $562 million, a year after purchasing Solectron Corp.’s Kavlico unit, which makes measurement and control systems. It bought French sensors maker Crouzet in 2000.

Avago, based in Singapore, was created in 2005 as a spinoff from scientific-analysis equipment-maker Agilent Technologies Inc., which itself was spun off in 1999 from Hewlett-Packard. KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners bought Avago and took it public.

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