May 29, 2018 / 7:03 AM / 5 months ago

Dassault company will continue to play strategic role for France: defense minister

PARIS (Reuters) - The Dassault company will continue to play a strategic role for the French armed forces, the country’s defense minister Florence Parly said on Tuesday, following the death of billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault.

FILE PHOTO: French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly makes an official statement with French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian (not pictured) in the press room at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, April 14, 2018. Michel Euler/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

“This is a company in which the state cannot play down its own interests,” Parly told the Public Senat channel in an interview, adding that the Dassault company represented a “strategic role” for the country’s armed forces ministry.

Parly also said the French government would keep a close eye on the succession plans at the Dassault company.

Serge Dassault, whose group builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper, died in Paris on Monday aged 93.

FILE PHOTO: Serge Dassault, French UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) political party member and Chairman and CEO of Groupe Dassault Holding, poses after the company's 2014 First-Half results presentation in Saint Cloud near Paris July 25, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

The Dassault group which his father had created controls Dassault Aviation and Le Figaro, and holds major stakes in Dassault Systemes and Thales.

Airbus holds a 9.9 percent stake in Dassault Aviation, and the French and German governments both in turn have stakes of around 11 percent in Airbus.

Olivier Dassault, one of Serge Dassault’s sons, also told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday that succession plans at the company would proceed smoothly.

“There is no need for concern, everything is in place, everything will go smoothly, and in total unity,” said Olivier Dassault.

The family-owned Dassault Group had in 2014 appointed Charles Edelstenne as eventual successor to Serge Dassault, saying at the time that the succession would be automatic. Edelstenne is currently CEO of the group.

Reporting by Sophie Louet; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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