The German government is seeking a new private investor for European aerospace and defence group EADS in light of the possible departure of a major German shareholder, government sources told Reuters.
Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle tasked his staff with the search, they said, adding that they were expecting all along that large shareholder Daimler AG would likely reduce its EADS stake next year, much as it did in 2006 and again in 2007.
Earlier, Bruederle told Reuters separately that he wanted German and French shareholders of EADS to maintain a balance of ownership, Reuters reports.
The government has so far declined to comment on whether it have received clear signals from Daimler that the carmaker would sell its stake.
The economy ministry declined to comment.
German daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported government sources saying that the conservative party’s Bavarian sister, CSU, wanted to keep the option open of Germany later buying shares in EADS — a stance not categorically ruled out by the chancellery.
Separately, business daily Handelsblatt reported earlier that Berlin was on the hunt for a new investor that could ensure German strategic interests were taken into account.
“Talks are already being held with different investors, including German suppliers of EADS,” an unnamed government official said, according to Handelsblatt.
EADS suppliers Rheinmetall and OHB declined comment, while privately owned Diehl was not immediately available to comment.
“This is not an issue for MTU given the much smaller size of MTU and the different business focus,” said a spokesman for aircraft engine and parts supplier MTU Aero.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert earlier confirmed that Chancellor Angela Merkel would discuss the matter with her cabinet ministers, but he declined to comment further.
Government sources have said Merkel would discuss the issue on February 23 with Bruederle, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Deputy Chancellor Guido Westerwelle.