If MBDA does not seal its long-delayed merger with German missile manufacturer LFK by the end of the year, the whole deal is likely to be scrapped.

According to a source close to the negotiations, a deal has been agreed and - barring a last-minute complication - will be announced before 24 December. "If it does not happen by Christmas, it never happens," says the source.

An acquisition of LFK by MBDA - in which EADS and BAE Systems each have a 37.5% stake and Finmeccanica 25% - has been mooted since MBDA's formation in 2001 but the main block has been the price MBDA's UK and Italian owners have been willing to pay. MBDA already owns 18% of the German company.

MBDA chief executive Marwan Lahoud said in Paris last week that it is "obvious we need to finish the job...we need to consolidate LFK".

Source: Flight International