Hitachi Rail has agreed to sell its European signalling interests as part of its deal to buy the Ground Transportation Systems (GTS) arm of the Thales group. 

Hitachi’s acquisition of GTS was approved by the European Union in October 2023, two years after the deal was initially launched. 

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Italian company Mer Mec has agreed to buy Hitachi’s signalling business in Germany, the UK and France. 550 employees will transfer to MerMec under the deal. 

The divestment is part of Hitachi Rail’s agreement with the EU competition authorities to ensure the Japanese-owned firm doesn’t hold a monopoly position in the European rail signals market. 

Although no timescale or financial settlement for the deal was published by either firm, the CEO of Italy-based Hitachi Rail said it was as “major milestone” in the firm’s acquisition of GTS. 

“Today we have achieved a major milestone towards the final acquisition of Thales GTS which is a key part of our growth strategy,” said Hitachi Rail CEO Giuseppe Marino. 

Hitachi Rail said it would continue to operate in the rolling stock sector in the UK, France and Germany. 

Vito Pertosa, president of Mer Mec Group, said the purchases were made with the aim of increasing the company’s global position. 

“We are delighted to have signed this agreement, which represents an important step towards the acquisition of this historic signalling company. We are confident that the synergies that will be achieved with Mer Mec Group, led by our CEO Luca Necchi Ghiri, will further increase our competitive advantages, strengthening our worldwide presence.”