June 15, 2014 / 9:56 PM / in 4 years

Airbus, Safran to sign jv in space launch industry -sources

PARIS, June 15 (Reuters) - Airbus Group and Safran look set to boost co-operation in the space launch industry with a joint venture, accelerating Europe’s response to competition from U.S. low-cost rival SpaceX, people familiar with the matter said.

Officials from the two companies are due to meet French President Francois Hollande early on Monday, Hollande’s office said, but no reason for the meeting was provided.

People familiar with the matter said space would top the agenda, amid growing pressure from industrial groups for a shake-up of Europe’s public-private system of building rockets.

Airbus Group and Safran declined comment.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders called for a major overhaul to cut costs and give companies more say, but there have been disagreements with France’s CNES space agency over space launcher strategy.

Airbus Group builds the Ariane space rocket and French aerospace group Safran provides the solid rocket motors. The two companies are also the largest industrial investors in launch service Arianespace, but CNES is its largest shareholder. (Reporting by Tim Hepher, Cyril Altmeyer, Editing by Gus Trompiz)

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