Andrzej Jeziorski/SINGAPORE

A BAE Systems plan to take a stake in Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) by acquiring one of the companies involved in the merger appears to have been thwarted. South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai Motor is poised to acquire Hyundai Space & Aircraft's one-third stake in the newly created concern.

At the same time, the UK giant has teamed formally with Boeing to bid for 30% of KAI. BAE and Boeing initially made separate bids for the KAI stake on offer to foreign investors, but are to conduct joint due diligence, with a possible combined bid reportedly dependent on the results.

BAE's wider ambitions, however, seem to have been deflected by the Hyundai move, which values 33% of KAI at 96.4 billion won ($85 million). BAE had bid for 51% of Hyundai Space & Aircraft (Flight International, 8-14 December) in what was widely interpreted as a back door attempt to buy into KAI.

If BAE and Boeing do bid they will be head to head with a team of Lockheed Martin, Aerospatiale Matra and the Carlyle Group, with the deadline for final offers being the end of this month. KAI, registered as a company in December, incorporates Hyundai Space & Aircraft, Samsung Aerospace and Daewoo Heavy Industries' aerospace division, each with a one-third stake.

The three partners remain separate companies and can pursue certain contracts independently of KAI. Samsung Aerospace retains its engine work, and the Daewoo and Hyundai aerospace arms have retained some aerospace-related capacity outside of KAI.

• An updated request for proposals (RFP) in South Korea's drawn-out F-X fighter contest is to be published on 7 March. South Korea needs 30-40 fighters to replace McDonnell Douglas F-4D/Es and Northrop F-5s, although the total requirement is for 120 aircraft.

A final RFP is expected in the second quarter, followed by flight tests of the contenders - the Boeing F-15E, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Sukhoi Su-35/37. A decision is expected to be announced in late 2001.

Source: Flight International