Ownership revamp heralds new era for EADS

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The directors of Airbus parent EADS and its core shareholders have agreed to overhaul the company's ownership structure to enable it to be managed under a "normal company governance scheme".

Under the plans, long-sought by EADS CEO Tom Enders, Germany's Daimler and Lagardere of France will cut their strategic holdings in the European conglomerate, leaving French and German interests "intending to ultimately hold up to 12% each", says EADS.

Currently, Daimler and an entity made up of Lagardere and the French government each own 22.5% of EADS. Spain will retain a holding of approximately 4%.

In addition, EADS is proposing to buy back "up to 15% of outstanding shares", although this will be subject to "market conditions and shareholder approval".

The changes will result in the "free float" of EADS shares increasing from 49% to "over 70%", says EADS.

"This 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," says EADS.

The deal signals an end to the project between France and Germany that saw them merge their major aerospace and defence companies to create EADS in 2000.