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Mon, May 07, 2007

Airbus To Start Negotiations To Sell Three Plants Under Power8

Putting Out The "For Sale" Signs At Two German, One French Plant

With more than 10 "interested parties" reportedly on the table, including strategic and financial investors, negotiations for the sale of three Airbus plants will commence this month, reports Forbes.

The sales are the result of EADS' Airbus unit's Power8 restructuring program... which not only will put six full or partial factories on the block, but also includes the elimination of 10,000 European jobs, as ANN has been reporting.

EADS is also looking for investors for its core production plants in Meaulte, France; Nordenham, Germany; and Filton in the UK, according to an Airbus spokesman.

French daily La Tribune said Airbus was holding talks with French equipment manufacturers Lacatoere, Zodiac, and Daher over the sale of production sites under the Power8 restructuring plan.

The paper said, without citing sources, that other foreign groups are also interested in buying the factories, including Germany's Diehl, GKN in the UK, Alenia in Italy, and Spirit in the US.

According to La Tribune, Airbus hopes to sign preliminary sale agreements with the selected buyers by the end of June or beginning of July, setting the terms of the deal.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has also been mentioned as a likely candidate to buy or partner with one of the Airbus manufacturing sites, according to industry sources.

The Middle East's newly-formed aerospace company declined to comment specifically on its interest in Airbus' sites but said, "Our growth strategy includes organic growth and growth through partnerships and potential acquisitions. As such, we are routinely and actively surveying the marketplace for opportunities."

The company also said that "at any given time, we are engaged in various stages of discussion with other companies about opportunities to work and grow together."

Analysts see Airbus sites as a likely target for DAE as it seeks to advance its manufacturing presence.

Richard Aboulafia, vice-president analysis of the Teal Group, says he is "convinced" that private equity investors will be involved in the change of ownership of Airbus' sites because of the levels of investment needed.

He added, however, that DAE could be a feasible alternative to provide the cash Airbus needs to bring its manufacturing strategy back on track.

"I can't help but think of the term deus ex machina -- it's an almost impossibly perfect resolution, if DAE is willing to provide a major equity injection," he said.

"It is still unclear whether DAE wants to be a traditional aerospace undertaking or private equity with another flavour," he said, adding that in either case, an agreement with Airbus would make sense.

"DAE wants companies with an established management team that can take the business forward. It's a long shot, but they are serious buyers," said another analyst.

FMI: www.airbus.com; www.eads.com, www.dubaiaerospace.com

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