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Sell-offs could net $500 million for ABB

ABB wants to sell its stake in South Africa's Kruger Mpumelanga airport. KMIA

The resurgent Swiss-Swedish engineering giant, ABB, is continuing efforts to sell its holdings in power plants and infrastructure projects around the world.

This content was published on September 3, 2003 - 11:53

Experts say the sale could raise $500 million (SFr709 million) and help the company reduce its $8.3 billion debt burden.

ABB spokesman Thomas Schmidt said the sell-off – which was announced last year – would include the Moroccan power station, Jorf Lasfar Energy Co and South Africa’s Kruger Mpumelanga international airport.

The company has already sold its share in a power network and the Red Bank coal-powered electricity station in Australia.

All were assets purchased by ABB’s former investment wing.

"Selling off these businesses is another piece of the puzzle to become a leaner company and reduce our debt," Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Wednesday.

ABB’s management wants to slash the firm’s debt burden to $6.5 billion by the end of the year, and is banking heavily on the pending sale of its Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals (OGP) division.

The group also announced plans last week to raise SFr1 billion through a convertible-bond issue.

Renewed confidence

Investors are viewing the bond issue, as well as the company’s divestment programme, as a clear sign of recovery, after the group almost drowned in debt left over from its 1990s expansion efforts.

Shares in ABB have been among the brightest performers on the Swiss Market Index in recent months.

After plumbing the depths at around SFr1.40 in February, ABB shares hit SFr8.27 on Wednesday morning.

The WSJ said companies such as the British investment group, Candover, and the bank JP Morgan Chase, could be likely buyers of ABB’s infrastructure assets.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Experts said ABB could raise $500 million from the sale of infrastructure assets around the world.
ABB plans to sell its stakes in a Moroccan power station and South Africa's Kruger Mpumelanga international airport.
The company has already sold its share in the Red Bank coal-powered electricity station in Australia.
The sell-offs are part of a plan to cut debt from $8.3 billion to $6.5 billion by year's end.

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