UPDATE 1-Finmeccanica to announce rail assets sale as soon as Tuesday - source
(Adds share price, companies' response, background)
By Pamela Barbaglia and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN Feb 23 (Reuters) - Italian industrial conglomerate Finmeccanica is set to announce the sale of its shares in rail and signalling units AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS to Japan's Hitachi as soon as Tuesday, a source close to the matter said on Monday.
The deal, which would thwart a rival offer from China's Insgima Group, is poised to be signed in the next 12 hours after receiving the green light at a board meeting on Friday, the source said.
Spokesmen at Finmeccanica and Hitachi declined to comment.
Finmeccanica has full control of loss-making train company AnsaldoBreda and owns 40 percent of Milan-listed rail signalling group Ansaldo STS.
The sale of a 40 percent stake within Ansaldo STS would trigger a mandatory takeover offer by Hitachi for the whole company which has a market capitalisation of 1.77 billion euros ($2.01 billion).
Shares in Finmeccanica rose to their highest level since July 2010 on Monday on expectations of an imminent deal. The stock closed up 5.8 percent at 10.93 euros.
Finmeccanica has struggled to sell its rail businesses together because AnsaldoBreda has long been a drag on the Italian defence group's results. Continua...