EADS confirms talks to shake up complex shareholder structure

City A.M. Reporter
SHARES in EADS rose yesterday as European nations raced towards a deal aimed at overhauling a convoluted shareholder structure at Europe’s largest aerospace group.

The Airbus parent company said it was in talks on the company’s ownership with France, German and Spain, confirming press reports.

People familiar with the matter said the talks involved a sweeping re-arrangement of government stakes, coupled with a staged exit of its industrial partners, reducing big shareholder blocks below 30 per cent instead of more than 50 per cent.

“The company is participating actively in such discussions ... with the objective to preserve and enhance ... the interests of all stakeholders,” EADS said in a statement.

A German economy ministry spokesman added that efforts were being made to reach a deal as quickly as possible.

EADS’s ownership structure has also become an urgent issue since $45bn merger talks with BAE Systems collapsed in October, exposing the fragility of its existing shareholder structure.

“The BAE discussions caused a lot of movement and demonstrated to people like Lagardere that they could find a way out,” said a person familiar with the discussions.