EADS shareholders said they had reached agreement on the biggest shake-up of control in the aerospace company since it was founded over a decade ago, putting the bulk of its shares beyond government influence.The accord to wind down a complex Franco-German power-sharing pact came weeks after talks broke down to merge the group with UK defence contractor BAE Systems and borrows many of the mechanisms drawn up for the failed deal.France and Germany have agreed to control 12 percent each of the voting rights, handing Berlin a direct stake in the Airbus parent company for the first time. Spain will also have a stake of around 4 percent.Until now parity in EADS - originally formed from a merger of French, German and Spanish interests - had been ensured through a complex agreement between the French state, French media firm Lagardere and German car firm Daimler.France will give up veto powers over the company's industrial policy and none of the governments will have special veto powers but sensitive defence interests will be ring-fenced.However an adviser to French President Francois Hollande said he had agreed in a meeting with EADS chief executive Tom Enders on Wednesday that Enders would update his government on developments in the company every eight months or so.The deal to revamp control of the maker of Airbus passenger planes, Ariane rockets and Eurofighter combat jets followed days of intensive talks in Paris between European governments, banks and industrial shareholders."The agreement aims at normalising and simplifying the governance of EADS while securing a shareholding structure that allows France, Germany and Spain to protect their legitimate strategic interests," EADS said in a statement.EADS said the free float in the company would ultimately rise to over 70 percent from 49 percent now.Earlier, French finance minister Pierre Moscovici said keeping a balance between French and German interests in Europe's largest aerospace group was a priority.The agreement calls for a buyback of up to 15 percent of EADS stock, to be carried out in two equal stages, one of which would be reserved for Lagardere and the other for any of the company's shareholders.Daimler immediately announced it would sell some of its shares in EADS to German state-owned development bank KfW as part of an overall reduction of its 15 percent stake in the European aerospace group. Source: Reuters
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