Germany’s government is going to become stakeholders in giant aerospace defence company EADS NV (EPA:EAD), joining France and Spain as state shareholders. The new ownership structure was announced today by European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), despite overall government influence at the company shrinking.
EADS NV (EPA:EAD), which is Europe’s largest aerospace company, as well as the parent company of Airbus, the European rival to the US-based The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), said the deal would eventually give the French and German governments 12 percent ownership each, with Spain holding around four percent. Private-sector investors Daimler Ag, based in Germany, and France’s Lagardere SCA (EPA:MMB) would meanwhile be reducing their respective stakes in the company.
EADS has been looking to go in a new direction after recent disputes with its German and French owners. The British government ruined the possibility of a merger between EADS and BAE Systems PLC (PINK:BAESY) (LON:BA) of Britain, in a proposed deal worth $45 billion. If the deal had of gone ahead, the resulting company would have had a market value just under Boeing’s own.
Daimler AG (PINK:DDAIF) (ETR:DAI) (FRA:DAI), the automaker company behind Mercedes-Benz, and Lagardere – a French defense and media company – have for some time made it clear they have been looking to pull out from their investment in EADS, which they say is no longer strategic. EADS is planning a share buy-back of 15 percent next year, which would give the companies some maneuvering space to reduce their shares.
EADS CEO Thomas Enders called the changes to the shareholder ownerships the “most important change since the creation of the company 12 years ago.”
EADS NV (EPA:EAD) said the shake-up will “simplify the governance” and allow the state shareholders to “protect their strategic interests.” The changes mean that there will be less state influence in the company, with interests in the company reduced from about 50 percent down to 30 once the deal is completed.
German automaker company, Daimler, said the deal is “a big step towards a more market-orientated shareholder structure and will expand the entrepreneurial freedom of EADS.”
Since the formation of EADS NV (EPA:EAD), Germany and France have attempted to retain equal influence in the company. With the new agreement, France will be reducing its stake from 22.35 percent down to 12, while Germany’s government will for the first time be having direct influence in the company, rather than through Daimler AG (PINK:DDAIF) (ETR:DAI) (FRA:DAI).
The French government said the deal would ensure “the projection of the strategic interests of national defence.”