Airbus could shed full Dassault stake by end of 2015: sources
Airbus Group and Dassault Aviation aim to oversee the complete sale of Airbus's 4.8 billion-euro stake in the French planemaker by the end of next year, two people familiar with the matter said.
Plans to reduce the 46.3-percent stake were recently put on hold due to market volatility and Airbus Group said earlier this month there would be a second window of opportunity in early 2015.
So far it has said it plans to sell around 10 percent to institutional investors, while family-controlled Dassault Aviation has won approval from its shareholders to buy back up to another 10 percent.
But both sides agree the future of the entire shareholding should be settled by the end of next year, the sources said.
"The idea is to wrap up the entire operation by the end of 2015," one of the people said, asking not to be named.
Airbus and Dassault Aviation both declined to comment.
Airbus inherited its stake from former state-owned Aerospatiale, and holds it on behalf of the French government in an increasingly uncomfortable arrangement that led to a decision earlier this year that it was not a strategic shareholding.
Unraveling the arrangement needs the agreement of the government and co-operation from Dassault.
Airbus, which has also come under pressure from at least one of its own fund shareholders to free up the resources tied up in Dassault, said recently it had held constructive talks with both the French government and Dassault on the issue.
Reducing its stake would result in an increase in Dassault's slender market float - currently 3 percent of the company, which makes Falcon business jets and Rafale warplanes.
It remained unclear whether Airbus would seek to put all its remaining shareholding on the market or whether the Dassault family, which controls 50.6 percent of Dassault Aviation, would also buy part of the stock not included in the direct buyback.
But one of the people familiar with the matter ruled out the emergence of a second industrial shareholder to take the place of Airbus.
Family holding company Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault was not immediately available for comment.
Activist hedge fund TCI wrote to Airbus Group, formerly known as EADS, in August 2013, urging it to sell its stake in Dassault and return the proceeds to Airbus shareholders.