Latecoere Pursues Airframes Tie-Up, Still Considers Buying Up Airbus Sites
“We believe we need to take a European approach,” Chief Executive Officer Francois Bertrand said at a briefing in Paris today. Pierre Gadonneix, appointed as chairman yesterday to lead the search for a merger partner, said a tie-up with another company would help Latecoere raise funds, and that France’s FSI sovereign wealth fund may help back a deal.
Latecoere said it is still interested in purchasing Airbus plants in France that it failed to buy two years ago after Airbus shelved the plan. Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., sought to sell factories in France, Germany and the U.K. to save money and maintain competitiveness amid the dollar’s drop against the euro.
Buyers of the plants had been offered a chance to participate in the development of the A350 wide-body jet in return for agreeing to denominate contracts in dollars instead of euros, to help shield Airbus from exchange-rate shifts. Airbus did manage to sell a factory in the U.K., while plans to sell plants in both Germany and France collapsed.
Airbus has since put the French plants into a separate company, called Aerolia, to make any future sale easier. Bertrand said today the industrial logic of buying the assets still exists. Louis Gallois, the CEO of EADS, said in July a tie-up between Latecoere and Aerolia could still make sense.