EADS will simplify Airbus structure if acquisition of BAE 20% goes ahead

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EADS says that the decision by the UK’s BAE Systems to sell its 20% share in Airbus will enable it to create a simpler structure for the European airframer.

BAE has entered preliminary discussions to dispose of its Airbus stake to EADS, which already holds the remaining 80%.

“We welcome the opportunity to increase our stake in Airbus, which holds the potential of simplifying Airbus governance,” says EADS. “We were anticipating the possibility of such a move and are fully prepared to move ahead constructively.”

But while BAE holds a put option through which it can oblige EADS to purchase the shareholding, EADS says that the initiations of the talks “does not represent” the exercising of this option. The nature of the put option resulted in EADS disclosing in its accounts last month that it valued the BAE shareholding in Airbus to be worth at least €3.5 billion ($4.3 billion).

But EADS says: “We intend to work diligently together with BAE Systems towards a value that is fair to both parties. The schedule of the discussions cannot be anticipated and there can be no certainty as to their outcome.”

It adds that it does not intend to disclose any further details about the discussions until they are closed.

DAVID KAMINSKI-MORROW / LONDON