Daimler chief confirms Berlin contact over EADS

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The chairman of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, said Tuesday that the German carmaker was talking to its government about European aerospace group EADS, in which it holds a stake.

Daimler is believed to be seeking to sell half of its 15-percent holding in EADS, which owns Airbus, according to reports, in a move which could upset a shareholder balance that now exists between France and Germany

Zetsche told reporters at the Geneva Motor Show that there was a mid-2012 arrangement on 7.5 percent of its non-voting share stake under current shareholding agreements.

"So we have to think about the future of the (structure) of the company and that's what we are doing," he explained.

"And that, as this is not just any company, there are thoughts that we share with our government in order not them surprise them in the future," he said.

"You have, in the long run, a 7.5 percent stake package without voting rights which is held by investors until the middle of 2012. So for this, any continuation has to be found," Zetsche said.

Zetsche declined to comment further on the EADS reports.

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said last week that Berlin would prefer a private solution to the issue if Daimler wanted to sell part of its stake.

He also said that "we want to maintain the Franco-German balance" within the group.

Daimler controls 22.5 percent of the voting rights in EADS, the parent group of aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which is the same level as that held by the French state and industrial group Lagardere.

© 2011 AFP

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