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Siemens, Bombardier exploring two rail joint-ventures: sources

The first new Elizabeth line train, a Bombardier Class 345 train, is seen at Shenfield station, east of London.

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Siemens AG and Bombardier Inc. are exploring options including two rail joint ventures as part of their planned train-equipment tie up, according to people familiar with the matter.

The companies are making progress on one joint venture for their rolling stock operations, which would be controlled by Montreal-based Bombardier, and another for signalling, in which Siemens would have a majority, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. A deal could be reached in the coming months, they said.

No final decisions have been made and any combination would require political backing, clearance from antitrust authorities and face potential opposition from unions, they said. Representatives for Siemens, which has headquarters in Munich, and Bombardier declined to comment.

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Bombardier's Class B shares rose 1.7 per cent to $2.45 at 3:13 p.m. in Toronto. Siemens stock closed down 0.7 per cent at 123.20 euros in Frankfurt.

The talks for a tie up come as both companies, along with France's Alstom SA, are facing increased competition from industry leader CRRC Corp. of China, formed from a 2015 merger of the country's two main regional train makers. Siemens and Bombardier's rail operations have significant overlap in Europe, especially Germany, raising the likelihood of asset sales to allay regulatory concerns, and job overlaps.

Siemens outlined plans in May to cut 300 rail operation positions in the western German town of Krefeld. Bombardier's rail unit, which makes subways, tramways and high-speed trains, plans to slash 5,000 positions globally, with about half in Germany, German daily Handelsblatt reported Tuesday, citing company sources.

Scrutiny Both companies have rail operations in Germany's capital, Berlin, which would likely serve to intensify scrutiny of any deal from politicians and unions.

Siemens earned €7.8-billion ($8.8-billion) in sales from its so-called mobility unit in the last fiscal year, more than the $7.6-billion recorded by Bombardier's transportation division. While Bombardier dwarfs Siemens in rolling stock revenue, Siemens makes almost double that of Bombardier in signaling, according to Barclays analysts.

Talks between Bombardier and Siemens, which started earlier this year, were first reported by Bloomberg in April.

"It's obvious there's a lot of consolidation going on," Siemens Chief Financial Officer Ralf Thomas said in an interview in May, calling talk of a tie up with Bombardier "rumors." Alstom Chief Executive Officer Henri Poupart-Lafarge said "a certain consolidation" is "probably necessary in Europe" while Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said May 11 the company was "going to look at the entire industry and industry consolidation, and take a proactive approach."

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Bombardier sold a 30 per cent stake in its Berlin-based train business to fund manager Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec last year, valuing the unit at $5-billion. Siemens makes the ICE high-speed train as well as diesel and electric locomotives, city trams and signalling equipment.

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