EADS shareholders reach outlines of deal: sources

Wed Dec 5, 2012 6:26am EST
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By Tim Hepher and Sophie Sassard

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - Shareholders in EADS EAD.PA have reached the outlines of an agreement on its structure and are working out final legal technicalities before announcing a shake-up of the European aerospace group, two people familiar with the matter said.

By abolishing a Franco-German shareholder pact, public and private shareholders are on the verge of the biggest shake-up of control since the maker of Airbus passenger planes, Ariane rockets and Eurofighter combat jets was founded in 2000.

"Everything is basically done but there are a few complexities to work out, mostly legal stuff," one person said, asking not to be named because the talks are confidential.

France and Germany have agreed to control 12 percent each of the voting rights, handing Berlin a direct stake in the Airbus parent company for the first time.

An economic ministry spokesman in Germany said discussions continued on Wednesday. EADS declined to comment on the talks, which are taking place at an undisclosed location in Paris.

"The deal is done. There is a firm political will to get it done on both sides. But it is not only a discussion between Paris and Berlin. That is why it is taking time," said a second source, who expected an announcement this week.

Those technicalities included setting up a foundation in the Netherlands, where France is expected to park a 3 percent stake in a non-voting structure in order to keep voting parity with Germany but keep the economic value of its full 15 percent.

There were also discussions over the mechanisms for German auto group Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote) and French media conglomerate Lagardere (LAGA.PA: Quote) to sell shares they have held as proxies for their respective governments.   Continued...

A visitor stands at the EADS booth during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Selchow near Schoenefeld south of Berlin, September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz