No decision yet on German buy-in at EADS: Merkel

12th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 October 2006, Paris/Hamburg (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday the German government had not taken any decision yet on whether to buy a stake in EADS, the parent company of the troubled planemaker Airbus. One of the German states, Hamburg, had earlier said it would join with the federal government to buy shares. France, Spain and Russia already have shareholdings in the aerospace and defence group. "No decision has been made," said Merkel at a news conference in Paris with French President J

12 October 2006

Paris/Hamburg (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday the German government had not taken any decision yet on whether to buy a stake in EADS, the parent company of the troubled planemaker Airbus.

One of the German states, Hamburg, had earlier said it would join with the federal government to buy shares. France, Spain and Russia already have shareholdings in the aerospace and defence group.

"No decision has been made," said Merkel at a news conference in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac. But she added, "We have excluded nothing." Berlin is trying to stop Airbus from closing workshops set up in Hamburg to fit out the giant A380 super-jumbo.

Merkel's remarks came after Mayor Ole von Beust of Hamburg - where Airbus has one of its main plants - announced after talks with the new CEO of Airbus, Louis Gallois, that he welcomed a federal German government "decision" to buy a holding in Airbus.

Von Beust, who is one of Germany's 16 state premiers and a Christian Democrat ally of Merkel, later backtracked, but said, "I remain convinced that the federal government must act if industry does not do its patriotic duty."

The later comment was an attack on DaimlerChrysler, the German-US automotive company that holds 22.5 per cent of EADS and said Wednesday it aims to reduce its holding to 15 per cent but no lower.

The French government owns 15 per cent of stockmarket-listed EADS, which was created to unite western Europe's disparate aerospace companies so that they can compete with big US corporations.

Standing with the mayor, Gallois said that news reports of plans to close plants were "pure speculation." No decisions had been taken yet. The Hamburg plant has been blamed for the A380 fiasco, because it was using different design software from that used in France.

Speaking at the same press conference as Merkel, following a meeting of the two countries' cabinets in Paris, Chirac said he wanted the upcoming restructuring of Airbus to be "harmoniously divided" between France and Germany.

"Chancellor Merkel informed me of the worries of the authorities involved, trade union and political, concerning Airbus activities," he said. "I share the same worry that the restructuring plan being implemented by Airbus head Louis Gallois... be harmoniously divided between the two principal sites, Hamburg and Toulouse."

Before being forced to step down earlier this week, former Airbus head Christian Streiff had recommended moving the task of fitting the A380 interior from Hamburg to Toulouse, where Airbus has its headquarters.

DPA

Subject: German news

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