July 26, 2018 / 6:24 AM / 3 months ago

Airbus CEO denies seeking fighter-unit merger with BAE Systems

PARIS, July 26 (Reuters) - Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders sought on Thursday to clarify recent comments about fighter consolidation in Europe, saying he did not see a corporate merger of the combat jet activities of Airbus, BAE Systems or others any time soon.

Enders, who was quoted earlier this week as raising the prospect of a merger, told reporters in an earnings conference call that he had been talking instead about the need for European nations to co-operate on competing fighter projects.

“Of course, I was not suggesting that we should merge the military aircraft activities of BAE, Airbus and whoever else rightaway,” said Enders, who had failed to win political support for a full merger of Airbus and BAE in 2012.

“What I was suggesting was that it makes a lot of sense, as we have two projects in Europe - a Franco-German and a British-led project - that politicians as well as industrialists try to converge those, and that there is time to do that because the developments are still some years away.”

Enders had been quoted in the Sunday Times as saying he was open to the idea of a merger of his firm’s jet fighter business with that of BAE Systems. (Reporting by Tim Hepher, Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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