PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus Group (AIR.PA) said on Thursday it was selling its remaining stake in Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), ending a longstanding arrangement to warehouse shares in the maker of combat and business jets on behalf of the French government.
Europe’s largest aerospace group said after European markets closed that it was selling 0.83 million shares or 9.05 percent of Dassault through an accelerated equity placement.
At the same time, Dassault Aviation plans to buy 502,282 of its own shares, or 5.5 percent, at the placement price or 980 euros a share, whichever is lower, Airbus said in a statement.
Dassault Aviation shares closed earlier at 970 euros.
Finally, Airbus Group plans to issue zero-coupon, 5-year bonds for a nominal amount of around 1 billion euros and these will be exchangeable into Dassault Aviation shares at a premium of 35-40 percent compared to the equity placement price.
“With this transaction, Airbus Group plans to fully dispose of its 23.6 percent stake in Dassault Aviation while retaining upside exposure on the shares underlying the bonds,” Airbus Group said in a statement.
If the bonds are exchanged in full, Airbus Group will no longer hold any shares in Dassault Aviation, the company said.
As an interim step, it will hold around 9.0 percent of Dassault Aviation and 11.7 percent of the voting rights after completion of the equity placement and the buyback.
BofA Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are joint bookrunners on both the equity placement and the bond issue, Airbus said.
BofA Merrill Lynch said early indications suggested the share and bond offers would both be over-subscribed and issued price guidance of 920-950 euros a share for the equity deal, representing a 2.1-5.2 percent discount to the closing price.
Airbus Group inherited the Dassault stake from former state-owned Aerospatiale when it was founded, along with a Paris headquarters building which has now been sold.
The European group has repeatedly said a sale of the shares was not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.
In 2013, it came under pressure from hedge fund TCI, which called the stake a poor use of capital and urged Airbus to sell.
Reporting by Tim Hepher, Arno Schuetze; Editing by Alexandra Hudson