British Aerospace has issued its bluntest warning to date that it will not be able to move towards the goal of an integrated aerospace/defence giant while the issue of state-ownership remains unresolved in France.

In a hard-hitting speech delivered in Paris on 2 April, BAe executive director Mike Turner led an attack on the French press, including his host Les Echos, for "-supposing that state shareholding issue is some sort of tactical game rather than a fundamental economic problem".

He says that while BAe is prepared in principle to throw in its lot with a new European Aerospace and Defence Company, its private shareholders could not be asked to agree to become "second-class citizens" in a new company in which a government was seen to have a "special influence".

BAe also rejects calls to build towards integration through a series of joint ventures, under the auspices of some broad umbrella company. "BAe is not prepared to indulge in this form of industrial Lego. Our position remains that the only satisfactory answer is based around big bang mergers in which each partner contributes the entirety of its business," he says.

He also roundly rejects attempts in France to link the longer term goal of defence integration with an immediate need to restructure Airbus Industrie into a standalone company. "It makes very little commercial or industrial sense to suggest delaying an overdue reform in a growing core business," he says.

The state shareholding issue is "-only one of several matters in which France finds itself in a minority position", he adds, in an apparent reference to growing UK and German frustration with the lack of clarity over the French Government's industrial policy.

Source: Flight International