Christiaan Hetzner Frankfurt

German car marker Daimler raised E1.66bn (R19.1bn) from a lightning sale of shares in Airbus parent EADS yesterday, making it the first beneficiary of a shake-up of the European aerospace company that sent EADS shares higher.

Daimler’s sale of a 7.5 percent stake is the first step in a complex series of transactions designed to reduce the scope for government interference in Europe’s largest aerospace group following a deal between politicians, banks and industrialists.

The deal led by France, Germany and Spain calls for governments and proxies to reduce a block of shareholdings in EADS to 30 percent from 50 percent, while removing a boardroom veto over industrial matters previously enjoyed by France.

As Daimler announced its share sale, EADS shares gained as much as 9 percent to E29.60, recovering their value before the announcement in September of negotiations to merge with BAE Systems.

Although the $45bn (R395bn) merger attempt failed, due in particular to opposition from Germany, many of the structures designed for the tie-up have been adopted, handing full day-to-day control to chief executive Tom Enders.

“The primary purpose of the changes to the EADS shareholder pact is a move towards normalising the governance structure,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Rob Stallard.

EADS was also buoyed by a plans to buy back up to 15 percent of the stock to mop up excess shares and facilitate the exit of Daimler’s fellow core industrial shareholder, French media company Lagardère.

France and Germany will hold stakes of 12 percent each and Spain 4 percent.

Analysts say France and Germany will continue to exert indirect influence as major defence customers. – Reuters