Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Overhaul of EADS Ownership Is Confirmed ; Some Big Shareholders Will Get Diminished Voice as Company Reshuffles

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Overhaul of EADS Ownership Is Confirmed ; Some Big Shareholders Will Get Diminished Voice as Company Reshuffles

Article excerpt

The European aeronautics giant said it would dissolve a decade- old arrangement that grants the governments of France and Germany an effective veto over strategic management decisions.

European Aeronautic Defense & Space, the parent company of Airbus, confirmed a major overhaul of its ownership structure late Wednesday that would dissolve a decade-old arrangement that grants the governments of France and Germany an effective veto over strategic management decisions.

The balancing of national interests in EADS was enshrined in a shareholder pact that dates to the group's creation in 2000. That agreement stipulated that the French and German stakes in EADS must be equal, and until now the two countries have each exercised control of 22.5 percent of the company through a mix of state holding companies and private-sector owners that have acted as proxies for Paris and Berlin.

Under the terms of the new agreement, KfW, a German state-owned bank, will acquire a 12 percent stake in EADS -- giving Berlin its first direct stake -- while France will reduce its voting rights to 12 percent from 15 percent. A Spanish government holding company will have its stake shrink to 4 percent from around 5.5 percent.

The two large private-sector shareholders that have served as proxies for Berlin and Paris are expected to substantially reduce their stakes "either immediately or in the near future," EADS said, in part through a general buyback of up to 15 percent of its shares planned in the first quarter of next year.

The German carmaker Daimler, which holds 15 percent of EADS shares and 22.5 percent of its voting rights, said in a separate statement that it planned to reduce its holdings before the end of 2012. Daimler did not say how much of a stake it would sell, but EADS said the initial disposal would amount to a 7.44 percent stake, including a 2. …

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