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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Russian reassurance over Airbus
President Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin says Russia is keen on being a partner in Airbus
Shares in Airbus owner EADS have risen after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was not looking to interfere in the planemaker's affairs.

Speculation has surrounded the Kremlin's interest in Airbus after Russian state bank Vneshtorgbank (VTB) bought a 5% stake in EADS.

Russia, France and Germany are to form a working group to discuss possible areas of co-operation regarding EADS.

Mr Putin said the share purchase was "not a sign of aggression".

'Favourable deal'

His comments lifted shares in EADS by 1.6% to 22.76 euros.

Airbus is due to publish the findings of a major review of its business within the next few days.

Russia's purchase of EADS shares took many experts by surprise, particularly as it comes at a time when EADS is reeling from costly delays to the flagship Airbus A380 which prompted a management crisis.

We do not intend to use these shares to change the institutional situation in EADS, but we are ready for partnership
Vladimir Putin, Russian President

Some analysts have speculated that Moscow is keen to win more business from Airbus for its struggling aeronautical industry, and believes being an investor will give it increased leverage.

But Mr Putin said the share purchase was a financial opportunity and not part of a plan to gain influence over the firm.

"The Russian bank saw a favourable deal and took advantage of it," he said during a summit with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We do not intend to use these shares to change the institutional situation in EADS, but we are ready for partnership."

Neither Mr Chirac nor Ms Merkel made any comment on Russia's involvement in EADS, although both welcomed growing economic co-operation between the three countries.

Links between EADS and Russia have grown in recent years, with the aviation firm operating several engineering plants in the country and buying a stake in Sukhoi, the manufacturer of jet fighters.

Airbus review

EADS' shareholders - which include the French and Spanish governments, French firm Lagardere and carmaker DaimlerChrysler - have often had an uneasy relationship in the past.

The company's dual management structure - which comprises of two chief executives and chairmen representing its French and German investors - has attracted criticism.

Airbus A350 plane
A review of Airbus operations could lead to big changes

Airbus is concluding a wide-ranging review of its business and is due to outline its future direction in the next few days.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Airbus was looking at ways of reducing its annual $18bn procurement budget as it seeks to recoup some of the losses from delays to the A380.

Airbus said the review "incorporated all aspects of the company" but would not give details about specific areas.




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