BERLIN/PARIS Dec 2 France and Germany held
talks on EADS over the weekend and appeared very close
to agreeing a new shareholder structure for Europe's largest
aerospace group, people familiar with the matter said.
One person briefed on the Paris talks said they focused on
capping state shareholdings in EADS at 30 percent, giving France
and Germany voting shares of 12 percent each and Spain a voting
share of 4 percent inside a core state shareholder group.
This would leave a 2 percent buffer of voting stock that
states could still possibly acquire later, the person said,
echoing a report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
Spain currently owns 5.5 percent.
Under Dutch law that governs EADS, a group of shareholders
cannot control more than 30 percent of the votes without
triggering a mandatory bid for the whole company.
FAZ said talks were also looking at what level of state
representation there could be on the company's board, with
suggestions of two places each for France and Germany and one
The new arrangement is due to be put to shareholders in the
spring of 2013, the newspaper said.
EADS declined to comment.
Two sources familiar with the discussions said a deal could
be reached by Monday, paving the way for an eventual exit by
industrial shareholders Daimler and Lagardere
A source in Germany said a share buyback by EADS was also
possible to reduce the share overhang.
Talks would continue until the "last minute" on Sunday, the
Reuters reported on Friday that France and Germany were
close to a deal to shake up EADS after France agreed to hive off
part of its 15 pecent stake to preserve parity with Germany
inside a core government shareholder group.
Under this arrangement, France is expected to place 3
percent in a non-voting structure in the Netherlands, where EADS
is registered, while keeping economic control of the stock.
A potential mismatch of shareholdings had been a key
stumbling block in the talks.
EADS' structure has been an urgent political issue since
last month's failure of $45 billion merger talks with UK arms
firm BAE Systems exposed the fragility of existing
EADS is due to hold an investor meeting on Monday at which
the outlines of the company's new structure could be presented.
* ANALYSIS-EADS shake-up brings government out of industry's