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PARIS: EADS looks to make acquisitions this year

EADS is poised for further acquisitions as it looks to bolster its defence, security and services presence in North America and emerging markets.

Addressing media on the eve of the show, chief executive Louis Gallois said it is looking to follow its purchase earlier this year of Canadian helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul provider Vector. "It is a first step, but others will come, probably this year," he said.

Louis Gallois - EADS, Billypix 
 Louis Gallois - EADS
Billypix ©

EADS has been cautious when it comes to buying into new markets since its formation in 2000. However, despite cost overruns on the Airbus A380 and Airbus Military A400M and investing in the A350, its cash position is relatively strong.

Gallois said EADS is "ready when the opportunity is right" but was not interested in acquisitions "for the sake of buying companies".

Chief strategy and marketing officer Marwan Lahoud said targets were likely to be "mid-size companies in services, defence or security with an exposure to North America or emerging markets and limited exposure to Europe". He said they would be "sound", adding: "We are not in the recovery business."

Gallois acknowledged that making acquisitions in many countries is difficult because of rules on foreign ownership. "In some markets it will be necessary to grow organically or through local partnerships," he said.

The former French railways boss, whose term as chief executive ends next year, expects to retire with the company in a healthy financial position. "Profitability is not at a satisfactory level today but in 2012 we will see a very significant recovery, so long as there are no accidents."

He said he was unworried by statements by founding French and German shareholders Lagardère and Daimler that they want to divest their stakes in EADS to focus on their core media and automotive businesses, saying that having a larger proportion of publicly traded shares would "benefit all shareholders".

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