eaction to the proposed merger of BAE Systems and EADS has not been good. Shares in both have gone only downhill since the two admitted they were talking marriage. Private investors in EADS believe the deal undervalues their company and have no wish to give away their cash pile to support a weak partner. Politicians in Berlin are unconvinced, as are counterparts in Paris. Even London's free-market fans may not let go of a particularly strategic piece of family silver.
Analysts see few synergies. The idea of a pan-European industry champion forged of national companies otherwise struggling in too-small home markets has certainly been a success in EADS's civil businesses, but a BAE-EADS combination would - unlike its US counterparts - still be dealing with small national markets.
Worse, linking with BAE seems unlikely to open the US defence market to EADS, and an EADS connection may even undermine BAE's hard-won acceptance by the Pentagon. Buying weapons from BAE-EADS could easily be seen as using US taxpayers' money to subsidise Europeans - and that won't wash in Washington.
With so many players and variables, the merger talks may well founder. The way forward could be to split BAE, selling the US business to a rival there and leaving EADS with the rest. That outcome would not please stakeholders in EADS or BAE, but politics, like war, is all too often the domain of chance.
(This first appeared as a leading article in 2 October issue of Flight International)