[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
BAE agrees to 1.87bn Airbus sale
Airbus A380
BAE Systems says Airbus faces a challenging future

UK-based defence firm BAE Systems has agreed to sell its 20% stake in planemaker Airbus to EADS for 2.75bn euros (1.87bn; $3.53bn).

If shareholders agree to the deal, pan-European EADS - which owns 80% of Airbus - will own the firm outright.

The 13,000 Airbus workers in the UK, where the planes' wings are built, are not thought to be affected by the deal.

"The board believes that Airbus is facing a challenging short to medium-term outlook," BAE said.

BAE can sell its 20% stake after a 2001 deal it signed with Franco-German EADS.

It estimates the sale of the stake - which has to be approved by BAE shareholders - will generate net proceeds of about 1.2bn. It will then return about 500m to shareholders.

Airbus troubles

BAE first said in April this year that it was thinking of selling its stake in Airbus.

After BAE and EADS failed to reach agreement on a price for the sale, investment bank Rothschild was brought in to value the stake.

Its estimate of the stake's value at about 1.9bn was much lower than analysts' expectations of 3bn-4bn.

Airbus has had a difficult year, announcing in June that deliveries of its new A380 plane would be delayed following problems with wiring.

In a statement, BAE said it thought "a significant amount of management focus, time and investment would be required to address the issues currently facing Airbus".

BAE chief executive Mike Turner told the BBC that the time was right to sell.

"In the long term Airbus will do very well. Cleary it has issues today but I see them as quite temporary," he said.

"It needs to keep costs down because of the weakness of the dollar and has got to find money to invest in the new family of aircraft. Also Boeing has re-entered the market with a vengeance and a very good product."

EADS co-chief executive Louis Gallois said BAE's comments had come as no surprise.

"We knew we were facing considerable challenges. We are working on them and we will have a complete overview in a few weeks," Mr Gallois told Le Monde newspaper.



SEE ALSO
BAE denies imminent Airbus sale
03 Sep 06 |  Business
BAE confirms possible Airbus sale
07 Apr 06 |  Business
BAE moves to force Airbus sale
07 Jun 06 |  Business
BAE seeks to fill pension deficit
13 Jun 06 |  Business
Low Airbus valuation blow to BAE
02 Jul 06 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific