The partial privatisation of French engine manufacturer Snecma has been approved by the government. The only surprise in the widely touted decision was the amount being divested - 25% rather than the expected level of 20%. Credit Suisse First Boston and Credit Lyonnais will broker the deal.

The three key ministers involved in the operation - Laurent Fabius, (economy, finance and industry), Alain Richard (defence) and Jean-Claude Gayssot (transport) - have issued a joint statement supporting Snecma chairman Jean-Paul Bechat's assertion that he would like to see further European engine manufacturer consolidation (Flight International, 26 June - 2 July).

"The government's ambition is to allow Snecma the means to pursue growth and to facilitate the power, equipment and aeronautical sectors to consolidate in Europe," say the ministers.

Potential investors will be able to take a stake in Snecma later this year, although no precise date for a Paris Bourse listing has been given and the ministers are keen to stress that the sale will only go ahead "if market conditions allow".

Snecma employees are to be given the chance to buy shares, although there is discontent among unions who are reported to be irritated at a lack of consultation. There is no indication yet whether the government intends to eventually relinquish control of Snecma with a further share sale.

The proposed stock market flotation adds a vital piece to the consolidation jigsaw that is openly being discussed in Europe. Snecma is already a major player in Europe both in engines and equipment.

Source: Flight International