EADS is positioning itself to be undisputed European leader in the aerospace and defence sector in 2003 and will take over other companies to do so, says co-chief executive Philippe Camus. But he warned that 2002 sales will probably remain flat, with earnings falling 18% to €1.4 billion ($1.46 billion).

Camus says he will aim for "external acquisitions, notably in Europe", in the field of "network-centric defence, including manned and unmanned platforms, electronics, space and especially integrated intelligence." Last September EADS reported a cash reserve of €1.8 billion ($1.9 billion), but Camus says he has the full backing of shareholders, raising the possibility of a further fundraising effort such as a rights issue to support the acquisitions programme.

Camus hopes that EADS's existing military programmes will help it through the continuing slump in civil aviation, but says the company still needs to reduce its civil exposure relative to other activities. "We have to develop within our industrial group major military application programmes, helicopters, missile or space programmes because these have and will enable us to survive and even prosper during times of the civil crisis. This is why the confirmation of the €18 billion A400M [military transport] programme is a great success - the biggest contract in EADS's history," Camus says.

Camus says the objective for Airbus is to continue taking 50% of the world commercial aircraft market. Looking ahead to the group's 2002 financial results, Camus predicts turnover close to the 2001 figure of €27.6 billion, with a strong net cash position and earnings before interest and tax of around €1.4 billion, compared with €1.7 billion in 2001.

Source: Flight International