Airbus moves ahead with defense electronics, other asset sales

Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:58am EDT
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By Arno Schuetze

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) has started approaching potential buyers for electronics and other assets it wants to sell to focus its defense division on warplanes, missiles, launchers and satellites, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Europe's largest aerospace group hopes to attract private equity buyers for defense electronics businesses such as radar, optronics and avionics supplies, as well as for part of its satellite communications unit, the people said.

Separately, Airbus has begun contacting potential buyers of jetliner supplier PFW, which it rescued in 2011, they added.

Europe's defense industry is struggling as cash-strapped governments cut military spending, and the asset sales are part of efforts announced by Airbus last year to sell half a dozen businesses with combined annual revenues of around 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion).

The move breaks with its previous efforts to diversify into security activities and halts investment in defense electronics, in which it lacks the scale of rivals.

Airbus has asked investment bank Evercore (EVR.N: Quote) to organize the sale of some electronics businesses with combined sales of about 1 billion euros and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of roughly 80-100 million euros, the sources said.

These units specialize in radars for surveillance purposes, in avionics solutions -- for example helping pilots to fly in fog or at night -- and in optronics such as telescopes.

Information packets on the units, which could sell for 800 million to 1 billion euros, will go out to potential bidders within the next couple of weeks, the sources said.   Continued...

People are silhouetted past a logo of the Airbus Group during the Airbus annual news conference in Colomiers, near Toulouse January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau