Qatar Eyes 7.5% EADS Stake

Reuters20.09.2011 Qatar
Qatar Eyes 7.5% EADS Stake

Qatar Eyes 7.5% EADS Stake

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Qatar is interested in buying a 7.5% stake in European aerospace and defense company EADS from Daimler, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported.

Members of the Qatari government met two weeks ago with German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler for initial talks, said the magazine in its edition published yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Germany's economy ministry said she could not comment on ongoing negotiations. A spokesman for Daimler declined to comment.

Any move by a foreign investor to take a stake in EADS would come as a surprise because maintaining a fragile internal power balance between French and German interests in EADS has been a sensitive topic ever since the group was created.

EADS' defense portfolio includes France's nuclear weapons and German fighters, and its Airbus subsidiary guarantees about 55,000 civil jobs.      

One of the founding shareholders of EADS, Daimler aims to cut its stake and has urged the German government to find a solution, but reports have said that Berlin is having trouble finding an investor who would maintain the balance of power.

Daimler owns 15% of EADS and has voting rights for a further 7.5% of its shares held by a consortium of financial investors.

Sources have said German state development bank KfW may have to take on EADS shares from Daimler, a solution unpopular with some politicians in Berlin who oppose state intervention in the economy.

Last week, Berlin denied a report it was preparing to take a stake in EADS after failing to find a domestic private investor for part of Daimler's holding in EADS.

Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said that talks about the German car maker selling a stake in EADS were progressing, without elaborating.       

A Ministry source said that while interest from Qatar shows that EADS is highly attractive, any potential purchase of a stake by a sovereign fund would have to be examined very critically because of the company's strategic importance.

Qatar is no stranger to major investments in Germany, having bought a 9.1% stake in Germany's biggest builder Hochtief last year, and a 10% stake in Porsche Automobil Holding for $9.9 billion a year earlier.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2010, the Group - comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter - generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.


Source:  Reuters; AFP; Der Spiegel



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