Safran seen frontrunner to join Finmeccanica bid for Avio - sources

ROME Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:41am EST

ROME Nov 21 (Reuters) - France's Safran is seen as a frontrunner to join Finmeccanica in the Italian defence group's possible bid for a controlling stake in space propulsion company Avio Spazio, two sources close to the matter said on Thursday.

Safran is ready to leave the majority of the stake to Finmeccanica, the sources said.

"Safran is a strong option: it is credible even though talks (for a bidding partner) are wide ranging," one of the sources told Reuters.

"The offer from Safran is interesting because they are available to leave a majority stake in Italian hands," the second source said.

British private equity fund Cinven wants to sell its 81 percent stake in Avio Spazio and has said that several buyers, including Safran, had expressed an interest in acquiring it. Also EADS is seen as possibly partnering with Finmeccanica in its bid for Avio.

Finmeccanica, which already owns 14 percent of Avio, declined to comment, while Safran could not immediately be reached for comment.

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