Rheinmetall, Thales interested in Airbus sensor business
By Arno Schuetze
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German defense group Rheinmetall (RHMG.DE: Quote) and French peer Thales (TCFP.PA: Quote) are among several groups interested in a defense electronics business that plane maker Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) is selling in an effort to streamline its operations, sources familiar with the transaction said.
The two companies as well as U.S.-based Raytheon (RTN.N: Quote) and a number of private equity groups including Carlyle (CG.O: Quote), Bridgepoint, CVC, KKR (KKR.N: Quote), KPS and Triton are expected to hand in tentative offers for the Airbus business by a Friday deadline, they said.
The price tag on the sale, dubbed "Orlando", which is led by investment bank Evercore (EVR.N: Quote), may reach up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), the people said.
Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace group, is currently selling several businesses to focus its defense division on warplanes, missiles, launchers and satellites.
Thales Chief Executive Patrice Caine declined to comment on any specific talks, but told analysts that such opportunities were difficult to predict.
"Defense deals can only be opportunistic; it is too complex to make firm bets on a defense deal," he said in a conference call when asked about the company's criteria for expansion.
A Rheinmetall spokesman said the company was following the divestment activities of Airbus, declining to comment further.
The other companies and private equity investors all declined to comment. Continued...