July 9, 2012 / 6:27 PM / in 6 years

Germany sees EADS stake purchase by year end

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - Germany expects a deal to buy a stake in aerospace group EADS from Daimler will happen by the end of the year, the German minister in charge of aerospace policy said on Monday.

Germany has agreed, via state-owned KfW bank, to purchase a 7.5 percent stake in EADS from carmaker Daimler in order to ensure the Franco-German balance is retained within the company’s shareholding structure.

“There’s a range of legal issues to be cleared. I believe we will manage it this year,” Peter Hintze said on Monday after meeting his French, British and Spanish counterparts at the Farnborough Airshow.

The deal comes as new EADS CEO Tom Enders has said he would like less state influence at the group.

Hintze said that if France were to sell its stake, then Germany would follow, as per the agreement to keep the shareholder balance.

Until then, however, Germany will continue to fight for a fair share of Airbus’ research and development and Hintze said he had written to the company to impress this point.

“If Airbus already shared this view, then my letter will have been received fine. If they didn’t feel this way, then it was important for the message to reach them,” Hintze said, although he admitted Germany’s concerns had not been discussed at the meeting on Monday.

“R&D plays a big role in the value-creation chain, especially when it comes to suppliers and the Mittelstand,” he said, referring to Germany’s often family-owned small and medium-sized businesses.

Spanish minister Luis Valero said Airbus showed how real economy businesses could be a success, taking a swipe at the banking sector at the same time.

“Europe should go into less finance and more real economy because the finance sector can bring a lot of problems,” he said.

Hintze and his fellow ministers also welcomed plans by Airbus to build a final assembly line in the United States, saying it would help Airbus to grow and thus secure jobs in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

They dismissed any concerns that a trade war could flare up with the United States over mutual accusations of billions of dollars of illegal aircraft subsidies for Airbus and Boeing.

“There are only losers in a trade war,” Hintze said, saying that all parties would work to avoid such a scenario.

When asked about the ETS emissions trading scheme, British minister Mark Prisk said they were aware of Airbus’ concerns that possible retaliation measures from the likes of China could hurt the European aerospace industry but that it was impossible to set a deadline for a global agreement to be reached.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Mark Potter

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