Chris Jasper/MUNICH

DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa) says it is "energetically pursuing" options for deals with aerospace manufacturers in France and the USA after the merger of British Aerospace and GEC-Marconi, which killed off its own planned merger with BAe.

Dasa president and chief executive Manfred Bischoff says the UK deal means that the foundation of a European Aerospace and Defence Company (EADC) is now a distant prospect, and warns that the merger could also delay the restructuring of Airbus Industrie.

Bischoff was speaking following the publication of Dasa's preliminary financial results for 1998. The Munich-based company reports a 12% rise in turnover on 1997 and a leap in orders of almost 40%.

Still clearly angered by the deal, Bischoff shed new light on the sequence of events that left Dasa high and dry.

"Those who believe we might be upset or forced into desperate actions do not know the culture of our group," he says. "We'll pursue European and Transatlantic options purposefully. But we do not act under pressure."

Bischoff confirms that talks with BAe initially stalled over management questions - including voting rights at shareholders' meetings and in the launch of new projects such as the A3XX - before breaking down when GEC-Marconi came on the scene.

He says it was not so much GEC's involvement that caused the rift, but the £7.7 billion ($12.3 billion) price that BAe agreed to pay. Some of this cost would have been passed on to Dasa shareholders, making a deal including the German company "impossible".

"DaimlerChrysler can only give its approval to public company structures that are accompanied by a balanced corporate governance," he says. "The dominance of one partner could jeopardise the success of the company from the start."

Bischoff also raises concerns that the BAe-GEC tie-up might prompt France to slow the transformation of Airbus into a single corporate entity, a move likely to precede the formation of an EADC. He says: "Our French friends might feel that they don't want to give away their stake in Airbus when they don't know what the structure of the industry in Europe will be or what the role of French industry will be."

The way ahead now for Dasa is likely to be through a bilateral deal, Bischoff says, and, while refusing to comment on how far advanceddiscussions with Thomson-CSF, Aerospatiale and other suitors might be, he confirms that talks have also been held with at least one potential US partner.

Dasa does not publish its overall figures until parent company DaimlerChrysler reports in March, but its preliminaries are healthy. Revenues rose 12% to DM17.2 billion ($10 billion) from 1997's DM15.3 billion, while orders rose 39% to DM27 billion.

While not disclosing its profits, Dasa says that they are "substantially up", and reports an operating profit of DM592 million for the first three quarters, compared with DM432 million in 1997 as a whole.

The company cites record Airbus orders and a rise in aero-engine sales by its MTU subsidiary as factors in its performance. The civil aircraft division contributed revenues of DM5.8 billion and aero-engines DM3.25 billion.

Source: Flight International