HITACHI Rail has secured clearance from Britain’s anti-trust watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, to proceed with the acquisition of Thales’ Ground Transportation Systems (GTS) business, a key step to completing the €1.66bn deal, which has been more than two years in the making.

Hitachi and Thales have now secured approvals in 12 of the 13 jurisdictions where merger clearance is required with just the European Union (EU) remaining. 

Hitachi has proposed various remedies after concerns were raised by both the CMA and the European Commission (EC) over the impact of the deal on competition in the railway signalling market in their respective territories. 

With the CMA now effectively confirming that these mitigations satisfy its concerns, Hitachi says it is hopeful that it will receive similar approval from the EC early next month.

“Having gained clearance from the CMA, we are now focused on achieving the final anti-trust clearance from the EC,” Hitachi said in a statement. “We believe strongly in the competitive benefits of the deal to acquire Thales’ Ground Transportation Systems, which will deliver value for customers in the rail signalling and mobility sectors in Europe and around the world.”

Hitachi and Thales announced the acquisition in August 2021 and Thales said in September that the two companies are committed to finalising the transaction in the first half of 2024. 

Under the proposed remedy package, Hitachi will divest all shares in Hitachi Rail STS France and the activities and backlog contracts of Hitachi Rail Deutschland. The package also includes all of Hitachi’s resources and assets relating to ETCS in Britain and the associated backlog of projects.