EADS purchase of Thales 'on agenda in 2005'

20th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

FRANKFURT, Dec 20 (AFP) - The possible acquisition of French defence technology group Thales by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company will be back "on the agenda in 2005", EADS co-chairman designate Noel Forgeard said in a newspaper interview published on Monday.

FRANKFURT, Dec 20 (AFP) - The possible acquisition of French defence technology group Thales by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company will be back "on the agenda in 2005", EADS co-chairman designate Noel Forgeard said in a newspaper interview published on Monday.

"I believe that the issue will be on the agenda for 2005," Forgeard told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"In 1995, I saw advantages in a tie-up between Matra and Thomson, which went on to become EADS and Thales," Forgeard said.

"But nine years on, I'm don't know any more. Some of the arguments in the past still hold true. But a lot has changed. I think the matter will be on the agenda in 2005."

The nomination of Forgeard, currently head of EADS' Airbus unit, as the new co-chairman-to-be at EADS has brought a possible merger with Thales back into the spotlight.

Forgeard is in favour of such a move, which would create a European rival to US aircraft maker Boeing. The French government, which holds a 15-percent stake in EADS and a 31.3-percent stake in Thales, is also believed to support a tie-up.

But there have been strong objections in Germany to such a move, because it would give France a bigger weighting in the shareholder structure of a merged group.

In the interview on Monday, Forgeard also suggested that the French government should eventually sell its stake in EADS.

"I believe EADS should be wholly privatised in future, because governments should generally not have anything to do with industrial companies.

Nevertheless, from the point of view of our shareholders the time is not yet right, because we're currently investing a lot in the A380," Forgeard said.

"The time will be right when we start harvesting the fruits" of that investment, he added.

However, French Finance Minister Herve Gaymard hinted later in a radio interview in France that the state had no plans to give up its stake in EADS.

"The state has 15 percent (of EADS capital). Why should it give it up," he said on radio channel BFM.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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