DaimlerChrysler is considering the options for its subsidiary DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa) - including partial flotation and a transatlantic deal - following the announcement of Dasa's merger with Spanish manufacturer CASA, say sources close to the company.
Dasa chief executive Manfred Bischoff was called away from the Paris air show because of what the company called "urgent business commitments in the USA". It is understood those commitments relate to talks on the German aerospace company's future.
Dasa's standing within the DaimlerChrysler group has been unclear since an anticipated merger with British Aerospace fell through late last year, and BAe subsequently partnered GEC's Marconi division.
The agreement with CASA means Dasa has bounced back from that disappointment, and DaimlerChrysler looks keen to follow up with further initiatives. Dasa will say only that "all possibilities are being explored", but sources confirm that options being considered include an initial public offering (IPO), or a deal with a US concern.
The sources say Dasa has been in communication with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, although a further European deal is a possibility.
If the company decides on an IPO, it could be a prelude to spinning off Dasa as a separate entity, allowing DaimlerChrysler to focus on its core automotive activities. A deal with a US aerospace company could achieve the same thing. Any action is likely to follow the completion of the Dasa-CASA merger, although the sources say an early move has not been ruled out.
According to DaimlerChrysler's memorandum of understanding with Spanish state holding company SEPI, announced on 11 June, each will have a stake in the new entity formed through the merger, with SEPI taking a 11.5-13.5% share instead of cash. It says it will sell its stake in three years. Dasa says the CASA deal will be "finalised in a few months" and that it marks "the first full cross-border merger in the framework of the European aerospace industry".
The new group will have a combined turnover of $10.36 billion and a shareholding of 42.1% in Airbus, 43% in Eurofighter and 38.5% in the A400M large transport aircraft, with more than 53,000 workers at 36 sites in Spain and Germany.
First indications are that the Airbus operations of Dasa and CASA will not be merged, allowing each to have a voice - and a veto - at meetings, although they may come under pressure from fellow partners BAe and Aerospatiale Matra to modify this stance.
SEPI's outline agreement with DaimlerChrysler includes a "first parcel" of measures:
• to increase CASA's activity in Airbus by exploiting its design and production capacities;
• consolidate CASA's European lead in military transports;
• lend momentum to CASA's business by "combining the capacities of the two companies";
• increase activities in missiles, space and helicopters;
• generate new business opportunities.
How Europe's major aerospace players reacted to the Dasa-CASA merger
Jean-Luc Lagardere, president Lagardere Group (33% owner of Aerospatiale Matra): "The agreement between Dasa and CASA was signed at 4pm, and Aerospatiale Matra was born at 6pm the same day, so it's probably a sign! I promise that we, with the British and the Germans - and we've started - will see how we can better integrate our structures and review our statutes."
Noel Forgeard, president, Airbus Industrie: "The main handicap has been the different cultures and traditions of the European countries. The privatisation of Aerospatiale is finished, and CASA is also going into the private sector, where the main focus is on shareholder value. That can only be good for the Airbus single corporate entity process."
John Weston, chief executive, British Aerospace: "CASA did have to join with one of the other partners, and we did put an offer on the table. But that was never a must-do for BAe and we are delighted that they have got together. The Airbus GIE rules are unaltered by CASA-Dasa, but three people are better than four."
Manfred Bischoff, president and chief executive, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace: "The aim of the merger is clear: we will strengthen our competitiveness by combining our complementary activities. Together we will continue to contribute to the restructuring of our industry in Europe."
Source: Flight International