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ABB CEO says more spin-offs possible

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By Reuters
ABB CEO says more spin-offs possible
FILE PHOTO: Chairman Peter Voser of Swiss power technology and automation group ABB addresses the company's annual shareholder meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann   -   Copyright  Arnd Wiegmann(Reuters)
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ZURICH (Reuters) – ABB <ABBN.S> is ready to spin off more businesses although a separation of its electrification unit is not on the table, Chairman and interim Chief Executive Peter Voser said in an article published on Wednesday.

The Swiss engineering company, under pressure from activist investors to simplify its operations, is carrying out a strategic review of underperforming businesses and agreed to sell its power grids business last year.

Voser, the former Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> CEO who took temporary charge at ABB in April, said the company, whose operations run from factory robots to chargers for electric cars, was ready to make further cuts to its portfolio if necessary.

“If we feel the need to separate ourselves from one area, then we do that as well,” Voser said in article published by German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung.

“If we see a strategic need, we can act,” he said. “I can not say if ABB will look like it does now in five years.”

The comments, confirmed by ABB, boosted the company’s shares, which were 2.5% higher and the biggest gainer on Switzerland’s blue chip index. <.SSMI>

The synergies between the ABB’s electrification, industrial automation, drive technology and robotics divisions “are not so great,” Voser said in the article.

But he added that a separation of the electrification division, currently ABB’s biggest business by sales, was not being considered.

A separation is “not at the moment on the table with us,” said Voser.

Voser is due to be replaced by Sandvik CEO <SAND.ST> Bjorn Rosengren in February, and will return to his role as chairman.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)