Russian president Vladimir Putin has reiterated the country’s interest in furthering its co-operation with EADS as an equity partner having a say in the company.

Putin, on a two-day visit to meet German political and business leaders, told German daily Zuddeutsche Zeitung in an interview that the country’s newly formed Unified Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is objectively interested in building closer production ties with EADS through cross-ownership.

Noting the recent purchase of a 5% stake in EADS by state-controlled Vneshtorgbank, he says: “I personally believe that Russia could in time increase its stake up to 10%, maybe more.”

Such a move would balance a 10% shareholding owned by EADS in one of UAC’s constituent firms NPO Irkut.

But Putin underscores that Russia could obtain an enlarged shareholding only with the backing of EADS’ shareholders and following the conclusion of an appropriate co-production agreement.

“Unless such an accord is in place, Vneshtorgbank will continue handling shares in EADS as an ordinary investment in the securities market.”     

“Besides, we haven’t made a final decision yet,” adds Putin, citing warnings against limitations on aircraft production system that UAC is likely to incur by developing deeper co-operation with EADS. He also predicates it on Russia’s capability to have a hand in EADS’ corporate matters.

“First of all, we’ll need to jointly decide on the product line and assembly sites,” he says, suggesting that the Russian aerospace industry could make a valuable contribution to some projects. “There might be different protocols for building wide-body, narrow-body and military aircraft.”  

Bavarian state premier Edmund Stoiber, speaking after meeting Putin, offered a cool response on the prospect of Russia increasing a stake in EADS. “I asked him to understand that in some strategic industries there are limits to taking reciprocal stakes,” he is quoted as saying.