Thales mulls alliance with British rival

26th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

FRANKFURT, Nov 26 (AFP) - French defence electronics group Thales is currently considering a tie-up with British rival BAE Systems, French group Snecma or Italian firm Finmeccanica, without saying goodbye to a possible merger with EADS, the business daily Handelsblatt reported Friday.

FRANKFURT, Nov 26 (AFP) - French defence electronics group Thales is currently considering a tie-up with British rival BAE Systems, French group Snecma or Italian firm Finmeccanica, without saying goodbye to a possible merger with EADS, the business daily Handelsblatt reported Friday.

"We're open to a number of options and that includes EADS" (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), the newspaper quoted a company source as saying.

Speculation about a possible merger between Thales and EADS, which would create a European rival big enough to take on US aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing, has intensified in recent weeks.

The French government in particular, which holds 31.3 percent of Thales and 15 percent of EADS, is believed to be keen on such a move, even if French President Jacques Chirac and EADS co-chairman Philippe Camus have denied any such merger plans.

The project has also run into resistance both in Germany and in Britain, whose defence ministry is one of Thales's biggest clients.

Handelsblatt said Thales it wants to come up with a solution by the time of its next annual shareholder meeting in May 2005.

Thales's future appears uncertain following the decision of two big shareholders, Alcatel and Dassault, which together hold 15 percent of the group, to sell their stakes, the newspaper said.

Thales chief Denis Ranque would prefer that Alcatel and Dassault simply sell their shares on the stock exchange, Handelsblatt added.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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