EADS shareholders want Dutch court probe into A380

Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:43am EST

* Shareholders request court investigation

* Irish Life owns around EADS 350,000 shares

* Deka Investment, UBS funds own over 3 mln EADS shares

* EADS says French regulator already cleared management

By Harro ten Wolde

AMSTERDAM, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Shareholders in Airbus parent EADS EAD.PA told an Amsterdam court the company painted a too- rosy picture of its Airbus 380 aircraft development schedule, and requested an investigation into management policy.

Shareholders including Irish Life Investment Managers (ILIM), Deka Investment and two funds of Swiss bank UBS (UBSN.VX) UNS.N, together hold over 3 million EADS shares.

They told the Dutch commercial court they suspected EADS, which has its statutory headquarters in the Netherlands, withheld data about delivery problems with the A380.

Production on the A380 superjumbo hit problems in 2006 when engineers found that wiring prepared in Germany did not fit planes being assembled in France due to incompatible software.

The plane entered service in December 2007 but is still slipping behind schedule and testing budgets due to the amount of customization requested by buyers.

"A too rosy picture in combination with an aggressive marketing campaign has created expectations ... which EADS has not been able to fulfil," lawyer Flip Wijers, representing ILIM told the court.

French regulators last month cleared EADS and current and former bosses of insider trading and market abuse, ending a three-year probe that has cast a pall over the group.

The probe was triggered after EADS EAD.PA suffered a 26-percent fall in its share price in June 2006 following an announcement of worsening delays in deliveries of the A380. [ID:nLDE5BG2F2]

Lawyer Jeroen Ouwehand, representing EADS, denied the company had misinformed investors or withheld any information.

He made reference to the French investigation, which cleared EADS and its management last month.

The shareholders expressed concerns before the court that history would repeat itself with the A400M military transport aircraft, which is designed to put soldiers and heavy equipment in rugged combat zones like Afghanistan.

It has been derailed by technical problems and soaring costs, sparking testy exchanges between Germany, its biggest projected buyer and EADS. Other buyers are France, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.

A report on Thursday said buyer countries may be ready to contribute 2 billion euros to cover cost overruns. [ID:nLDE60R1P4]

Commercial court judge Peter Ingelse said he would set a data for the ruling.

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