EADS confirms shareholder structure talks


EADS confirmed that its French and German stakeholders were discussing potential changes to the shareholding structure and corporate governance at the European aerospace and defense group.

The company said it was taking an active role in the discussions, which it said were intended to "preserve and enhance" the interests of all stakeholders.

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People familiar with the matter said on Sunday that France and Germany appeared to be very close to agreeing a new shareholder structure after talks over the weekend.

One person briefed on the Paris talks said they focused on capping state shareholdings in EADS at 30 percent, giving France and Germany voting shares of 12 percent each and Spain a voting share of 4 percent inside a core state shareholder group.

This would leave a 2 percent buffer of voting stock that states could still possibly acquire later, the person said, echoing a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Spain owns 5.5 percent.

EADS did not give any details of what was being discussed in its statement, saying it would make a further announcement as appropriate.

"The currently discussed potential changes are likely to require the approval of EADS NV shareholders and there can be no certainty that these discussions will be conclusive," EADS said.

Two sources familiar with the discussions said on Sunday that a deal could be reached by Monday, paving the way for an eventual exit by its industrial shareholders - German carmaker Daimler and French media group Lagardere.

EADS is due to hold an investor meeting on Monday at which the outlines of the company's new structure could be presented.

EADS' structure has been an urgent political issue since $45 billion merger talks with UK arms firm BAE Systems collapsed in October, exposing the fragility of existing arrangements.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson and Alexander Huebner in Berlin, Emmanuel Jarry and James Regan in Paris; Editing by Blaise Robinson and Christian Plumb)