The German government is seeking investors to buy European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. shares controlled by Daimler AG (DAI) as the carmaker pushes to reduce its holding, three people familiar with the matter said.
Chancellor Angela Merkelâ€™s government is looking for a buyer to maintain the countryâ€™s parity with France for control of the Airbus parent. The search for private investors is the first step before politicians weigh whether to authorize a state purchase of the shares, one of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.
Daimler, which controls the voting rights of 22.5 percent of EADS, wants Germany to find investors this year to take at least a 7.5 percent stake, one of the people said. The Stuttgart, Germany-based carmaker directly owns 15 percent. A group of public and private financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank AG and state-owned development bank KfW Group, holds the remaining 7.5 percent.
Germany has been discussing options for the stake for several months, including parking shares with KfW. The issue has been complicated by a change in leadership in Merkelâ€™s junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, which has balked at state ownership. Merkel is also under strain to boost economic growth while financing bailout funds to counter the euro debt crisis.
The German government is asking investment banks to help find a buyer, one person said. The Economy Ministry and Daimler declined to comment on the stake sale. EADS spokespersons in Munich couldnâ€™t be reached.
After months of stalemate, Daimler and EADS management have been pressing for a decision. Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in June that the discussion canâ€™t go on â€śforever.â€ť EADS CEO Louis Gallois said then that investors would benefit from a higher proportion of freely traded stock.
The maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks was a founder of EADS by contributing its Dasa aerospace unit to the planemaking and defense companyâ€™s formation in 2000. Daimler Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber, who is also EADSâ€™s chairman, said in February that Daimler is interested in acting as Germanyâ€™s representative in EADS, even if it sells its shares.
Under the agreement that created EADS, investors from France and Germany must hold balanced voting rights in the company. French publisher Lagardere SCA (MMB) owns 7.5 percent of EADS and also has management control over Franceâ€™s 15 percent stake.
To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Reiter in Berlin at [email protected]
; Aaron Kirchfeld in Frankfurt at [email protected]
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