Siemens Said Near Sale of Airports Unit to Wilbur RossAlex Webb, Ruth David and Leslie Picker
Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, is close to finalizing an agreement to sell its logistics and airports solutions unit to a group led by billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as it exits underperforming businesses, two people familiar with the talks said.
Siemens plans to retain a minority stake in the unit, which is based in Constance, Germany, to help secure jobs, said the people, who asked not to be identified because negotiations are private. The German firm will likely announce the sale as early as this week and the supervisory board is set to sign off on the transaction on May 6, one of the people said.
The employees of the airports unit will be asked to agree to join the new company, one of the people said. The Ross-led group also includes E. Leopold Dieck, a German businessman based in nearby Ravensburg, the people said. Representatives for Munich-based Siemens and the Ross group declined to comment.
Plans to sell the 3,500 employee-strong division, which makes parcel- and baggage-handling systems, were first announced by Siemens in November 2012. The unit had a “mid-single digit” profit margin on sales of about 900 million euros ($1.2 billion) in 2011.
The shares fell as much as 1.6 percent and were trading 1.4 percent, or 1.32 euros, lower at 92.77 euros as of 1:41 p.m. in Frankfurt. That extended the decline this year to 6.6 percent, valuing the company at 82 billion euros.
Chief Executive Officer Joe Kaeser, who was appointed last August, has been sifting through the company’s portfolio to identify more assets for sale before presenting a new strategy on May 7. He has sealed the sale of the VAI Metals Technologies business to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and is exploring a sale of the microbiology diagnostics unit, people familiar with the plans have said. He is also seeking to acquire parts of both Alstom SA’s and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc’s energy businesses.
Siemens has in the past 12 months sold its water technologies division, its stake in a telecommunications equipment joint venture with Nokia and spun off its Osram Licht AG lighting business.