Toshiba confirms deal to buy Swiss firm

Japanese engineering giant Toshiba said on Thursday it would buy Swiss utility metering firm Landis+Gyr for $2.3 billion in response to expected growth in worldwide demand for more efficient power grids.

Confirming widely reported rumours, Toshiba said it had agreed to take the entire equity of the firm, a global leader in energy management solutions for utilities.

“The acquisition, valued at $2.3 billion including net debt, will substantially enhance the scope of Toshiba’s smart grid and smart community businesses,” the Japanese company said in a statement.

Smart grids are intelligent power distribution systems seen as key for both advanced and emerging nations to use energy more efficiently.

Toshiba aims to offer one-stop solutions for power monitoring and management by combining its expertise in energy management with Landis+Gyr’s advanced smart metering technologies, services and customer base.

Toshiba said it hoped to strengthen its smart grid operations, with the global market for the environmental technology expected to rise six-fold to 5.8 trillion yen ($71 billion) in the next 10 years.

It said it would aim to achieve net sales of 700 billion yen in the smart grid and smart community operations in the year to March 2016, more than doubling current annual sales of 300 billion yen.

Toshiba, which bought the US nuclear plant builder Westinghouse Electric in 2006, is a major global player in nuclear power.

Landis+Gyr, as a Toshiba subsidiary, will continue its existing operations and maintain its employees, the Japanese firm said.

The Swiss company will continue to try to increase its share in the expanding Chinese, Indian and Brazilian markets while also aiming to earn more business in Europe and the United States.

Toshiba said the deal’s impact on its earnings for this year to March was yet to be decided.

But considering Toshiba’s group revenue of 6.399 trillion, or $79.22 billion, Landis+Gyr will not have a significant impact on Toshiba’s earnings in the short term, Dow Jones Newswires said, citing analysts.

Landis+Gyr generated sales of around $1.5 billion last year and employs about 5,000 people.

At the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Toshiba fell 3.36 percent to 431 after spending most of the day in negative territory.


France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

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Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

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