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EADS Chases ‘Hairy, Audacious Goal’ of $10 Billion U.S. Sales

EADS KC-45 Refueling Aircraft
EADS makes military and civil helicopters, as well as the KC-45 refueling tanker aircraft, which it’s marketing to the Pentagon. Source: EADS North America

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. said it is exploring U.S. takeover targets in the $500 million range and will consider servicing military planes to broaden its presence in the world’s biggest defense market.

EADS, based in Paris and Munich, has a goal of winning $10 billion in annual sales in the U.S., not counting sales of commercial Airbus SAS airliners, said Sean O’Keefe, the chief executive of EADS’s North American unit.

“It’s a big, hairy, audacious goal but one I think is attainable,” O’Keefe said in a briefing in the U.S. on Nov. 22.

The Airbus division provides about two thirds of EADS’s $43 billion ($57 billion) annual sales. EADS also makes military and civil helicopters as well as refueling aircraft, which it’s marketing to the Pentagon. Other products include a military transport plane that EADS aims to sell in the U.S. in the next decade.

EADS isn’t “restricting” itself and could pay more for companies than $500 million, said O’Keefe. The company will also pursue expansion without acquisitions, with options to service U.S. military transports and Coast-Guard aircraft and helicopters, which O’Keefe called “natural markets” as EADS already performs such services for aircraft outside the U.S.

“Hitting the service industry is a natural,’ he said. “It’s a very easy fit and one we’re looking at very aggressively for the kind of things we do real well.”

O’Keefe, 54, survived a small-plane crash in August and returned to work in October.

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