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PARIS -(Dow Jones)- French nuclear group Areva SA (ARVCY, CEI.FR) said Wednesday it has signed an agreement to sell its power transmission and distribution, or T&D, business to industrial companies Alstom SA (ALO.FR) and Schneider Electric SA (SU.FR), concluding exclusive talks that began late last year.
Alstom and Schneider entered exclusive talks with Areva after offering to pay EUR4.09 billion for the unit, including assumed debt. In choosing the French duo, a decision announced Nov. 30, Areva opted for an all-French buyer for its T&D unit over international competitors General Electric Co. (GE) and Toshiba Corp. (TOSYY, 6502.TO).
The purpose of the exclusive talks was to draw up the terms of an agreement providing for disposing of the unit at that very price, and to enshrine a commitment by Alstom and Schneider to maintain all the European sites of T&D for a three-year period and offer a number of guarantees to the unit's workforce, state-controlled Areva noted Wednesday.
Alstom and Schneider plan to split the T&D assets between them, with Alstom taking the transmission part of the business and Schneider acquiring the distribution operations.
The closing of the transaction remains subject to the approvals of antitrust authorities and of a French state body, the Commission des Participations et des Transferts, and is expected to occur in Spring 2010, Alstom and Schneider said in a separate statement.
The French state has already said it backs the deal.
Areva is selling the business to raise cash to invest in its core nuclear business.
-By Adam Mitchell, Dow Jones Newswires; +33-1-40171756; firstname.lastname@example.org
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