Decision taken to go ahead despite concerns over business impact of high oil prices

The French government has gone ahead with plans to privatise 35% of Snecma despite the high price of crude oil, which made it hesitate up to the last minute. The group will be quoted on the French stock market from 18 June at a share price to be set on 17 June that will be between €15.45 ($18.85) and €17.20 for institutional investors and €0.10 lower for private investors.

Jean-Paul Béchat, the group's president, relieved that the decision was taken as planned on 4 June (Snecma's partial privatisation was postponed at the last minute in 2002), says the move will give the group much more flexibility. "We were an exception in the French aerospace sector, with all our partners such as EADS, Latecoère, Thales and Zodiac quoted on the stock market."

He says the move will "give us the opportunity to take part in consolidation projects both through external growth and an exchange of shares. No such consolidation is on the cards in the immediate future."

Yves Imbert, senior executive vice-president, says General Electric is unlikely to buy any shares "and if they did they would be unlikely to get more than about 0.1%, which would not serve them any purpose." He adds: "They are our friends and would not want to perturb this operation. They have said in the past that they are interested in holding between 5% and 10% of our capital, but that will be done in a separate, one-on-one operation."

The government set the value of Snecma at €4.2-4.6 billion "which I think is a very attractive value for investors", Béchat says.



Source: Flight International