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Aerospace

Germany to become direct EADS shareholder

Following days of intensive talks in Paris, European governments, banks and industrial shareholders have agreed on a radical shake-up of the aeronautics group EADS. German and French voting rights are now equal.

France and Germany on Wednesday agreed to control 12 percent each of the voting rights within the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), the company reported. This would give Berlin a direct stake in the Airbus parent company for the first time.

The new structure of EADS shares

EADS said France was willing to lower its current 15-percent stake accordingly, parking its extra 3.0 percent of EADS in a non-voting foundation in the Netherlands. The French government emphasized that a balance between its own and German interests in Europe's largest aerospace group had been a priority while sorting out the technicalities of the deal.

Analysts said the agreement would simplify EADS' structure. With Spain to hold about 4 percent stake, overall direct state control will be below 30 percent, giving financial markets more leeway since state veto powers are to be curbed dramatically.

No more proxies

Under the deal reached on Wednesday, German auto group Daimler and French media conglomerate Lagardere are requested to sell most of their shares they've held as proxies for their respective governments.

Negotiations to overhaul EADS' shareholder structures had been sped up after the recent failure of talks on merging the company with BAE Systems from Britain.

Officials ruled out a repeat of the merger attempt any time soon, citing Germany's political objections to the shift of focus away from Europe's center.

hg/dr   (dpa, Reuters)

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