IT giants eye Lufthansa's infrastructure unit

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Lufthansa's IT infrastructure business, which the airline is trying to sell, is drawing interest from big IT groups IBM, Hewlett-Packard and France's Atos, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The German airline earlier this month said it was seeking a buyer for the business, part of its IT unit Lufthansa Systems, and has already held some early talks with interested parties.

The infrastructure business, which provides data centres, networks and telephony, requires a high level of investment and economies of scale are critical, Lufthansa said then, explaining its decision to exit.

Deutsche Telekom unit T-Systems had also considered the sale, but then decided not to make an offer, the source said.

A spokesman for Telekom said the company was not interested in buying the Lufthansa unit.

IBM and HP declined to comment, while Atos was not immediately available for comment.

"We are in talks with several sector heavyweights about a takeover of the IT infrastructure, and we want to secure most of the jobs following a sale," Lufthansa's CFO Simone Menne told German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung FAZ in an interview published on Tuesday.

The paper was the first to report the interested parties.

According to the plans, Lufthansa Systems will be divided into three parts: Infrastructure, Airline Solutions and Industry Solutions. The infrastructure division, which employs 1 400 people, will be sold while the other two will remain within the Lufthansa group.

While the infrastructure business accounted for 40% of Systems' total turnover of EUR640 million, it made up only 25% of the unit's profit.

Lufthansa expects non-binding offers to be made in May.

Analysts expect bids to be in the tens of million euros.

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