GE Aircraft Engines has confirmed that General Electric is interested in buying a minority share in France's Snecma group if the French government decides to sell part of its 97% share.

GE chief executive Dave Calhoun says GE has made it clear the company would not buy more than a 10% stake. "Any more than this would be harmful rather than beneficial to our relationship," he says.

Snecma was near to privatisation in 2001, but the collapse of the airline sector after 11 September put the plans on ice. However, the group now tops the list of French companies to be privatised. Industry sources say France is simply waiting for an improvement in the airline sector before making a move.

Jean-Paul Herteman, chairman of Snecma Moteurs, says: "Snecma's privatisation will not cause problems in our 34-year partnership with GE." He confirms that GE "would consider a small equity share to comfort the existing relationship and build on the future". Snecma chairman Jean-Paul B‚chat says: "If General Electric is positioning itself to be one of the group's shareholders, it would be to strengthen the partnerships we have on programmes. We consider GE's position to be extremely interesting."

Source: Flight International