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EADS Announces Shareholding Restructure

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

14 December 2012

EADS, the parent company of the European aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus, has announced an overhaul of the Group's governance and shareholding structure, which will increase the number of shares available to the public, and establish Germany and France as equal shareholders.

Daimler AG intends to divest up to 7.44% of its share capital by the end of the year, trading 4.68% publicly and selling 2.76% to Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), the investment arm of the German State. KfW will then buy the privately-held shares of the Dedalus consortium, which owns a total of 7.44% of EADS's share capital.

Under the deal, France and Germany's shareholding will be capped at 12%, while Spain would hold around 4% of shares.

The revised agreement contains no provisions on the location of EADS's operations, a fractious issue between Germany and France publicly exposed during EADS's failed tie-up with BAE Systems, thought to have been blocked by German Chancellor Angela Markel on concerns that the amalgamated company would largely be based in France, in particular in Toulouse where EADS is headquarted.

Eventually, the free float of EADS shares will increase from slightly less than 50% to over 70%, diminishing government control of the company. Four of EADS's twelve board members would be selected by France and Germany but these countries would lose their right of veto over EADS's business affairs.

Welcoming the new company structure, EADS Chief Executive Tom Enders stated: “Today is a good day for EADS. We are making a big leap forward in terms of governance, actually the most important change since the creation of our company more than 12 years ago. Strategy and industrial projects in the future will be solely defined and decided by the Board of Directors and the Executive team, the operations will be managed without any outside interference from specific shareholders or shareholder concerts."

"At the same time, the company will take care of legitimate national security interests of governments through appropriate undertakings," he added. "The new shareholder structure allows for a significant increase in the free float of shares. Our intention for a major share buy-back next year, based on our strong liquidity position, will benefit all shareholders. I can say, the executive management team is very excited about this development and the opportunities that flow from it for the future of our great company."

TAGS: aviation

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