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Hitachi nears $7 bln deal to buy ABB's power grid business - Nikkei

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Dec 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Hitachi Ltd is close to agreeing a deal to buy Switzerland based ABB Ltd's power grid business for about 800 billion yen ($7.1 billion), the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday.

Hitachi's board confirmed a plan to move forward with the deal, which would be the Japanese industrial conglomerate's largest-ever acquisition, the Nikkei reported https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Deals/Hitachi-nears-deal-worth-up-to-7bn-for-ABB-s-power-grid-business.

A Hitachi spokesman said the company did not make any announcement and declined to comment further. ABB did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

ABB had been in talks with Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric Corp and State Grid of China to sell all or part of its power grids business, which makes power transformers and substations for transmitting electricity, Reuters reported in November.

ABB, which also makes industrial robots, wants to sell the unit because it is the company's least profitable unit and offloading the division will allow it to focus on other areas such as automation.

ABB's power grid business employs 36,000 people and had sales of $10.4 billion last year. It had an operating profit margin of 10.0 percent in the third quarter, down 60 basis points from a year earlier. ($1 = 113.4800 yen) (Reporting by Tim Kelly in Tokyo and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)