June 16, 2020 / 1:47 PM / 17 days ago

AMS shares soar after media report it could sell Osram's auto unit

FILE PHOTO: The Logo of Austrian sensor specialist AMS is seen on their factory in Unterpremstaetten, Austria October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) - Shares in AMS (AMS.S) soared on Tuesday with analysts citing a media report suggesting the Austrian sensor specialist might sell Osram’s (OSRn.DE) auto division after it completes is acquisition of the German lighting company.

The Swiss-listed group’s stock was up 6% at 16.95 Swiss francs at 1320 GMT, outperforming the European technology index .SX8P which traded 3.5% higher.

AMS, which is hoping to conclude the acquisition within weeks, plans to move Osram’s auto unit into a holding structure, Bloomberg reported late on Monday. Such a move would suggest a plan to sell the division, it said citing a worker’s representative and an internal presentation.

“We can neither relate to the current conclusions found in media speculation nor do we see a basis for this,” AMS said in a written statement.

A source close to AMS also told Reuters that a divestiture of Osram’s automotive unit was not planned, while another source, who is close to the takeover negotiations, said they had been informed about the described scenario but that no decision had been made.

Osram is a leading maker of car headlights and its close ties to carmakers was a key reason for AMS’s interest in the company.

The much smaller Austrian group, which wants to reduce its dependence on Apple (AAPL.O), hopes to combine its expertise in sensors with Osram’s in lights to develop packaged solutions for self-driving cars.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown car manufacturers and suppliers into a crisis that could delay any such plans.

Osram’s auto unit, accounting for half of group sales, produces halogen and xenon lamps as well as LED chips for car headlights. Sales of the former were already shrinking before the pandemic as carmakers shifted towards the newer headlight technology.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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