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UPDATE 1-Kone CEO flags interest in buying Thyssenkrupp elevators

Anne Kauranen

(Updates with quotes and background)

HELSINKI, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Kone signalled its interest in buying Thyssenkrupp's elevator business on Wednesday, with the Finnish firm's CEO Henrik Ehrnrooth saying it was an "ideal match".

Widely seen as a likely bidder for German industrial group Thyssenkrupp's elevators division, there have been reports that Kone has offered around 15 billion euros for it.

"We have said that we are very interested," Ehrnrooth said when asked by Reuters in an interview whether Kone had made an offer for the Thyssenkrupp business.

"We believe we would be the best partner for Thyssenkrupp," Ehrnrooth added after Kone reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday.

"It would be an ideal match. Thyssenkrupp's elevators and Kone would be the best two partners, Ehrnrooth said, listing their different geographic coverage, synergies from overlapping operations and the industry's digital transformation needs.

"The main reason why we are doing this is geographic coverage and to obtain more growth," he added.

Ehrnrooth declined to say what synergies Kone calculates it could squeeze out of merging the two businesses.

"We believe the synergies would be quite remarkable," he said, adding they would "mean staff cuts in some places but our type of business is geographically very dispersed".

In Europe, Kone was more concerned about the continent's shortage of skilled labour.

An acquisition would need approval by European competition authorities, but Ehrnrooth said discussions with them would only begin once there was "a real case on their table".

He pointed out that the two companies dominate in different geographies, with Kone being strong in Asia while Thyssenkrupp's best markets are in the Americas.

"We havent discussed selling any of our own assets," he said, adding "it could well be that we would have to give up some parts of Thyssenkrupp (lift business)". (Reporting by Anne Kauranen; editing by David Evans and Alexander Smith)