Germany Sees Enders Heading EADS-BAE as Jockeying Starts

EADS Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders
CDU deputy leader Michael Fuchs said EADS Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders, seen here, “is the right man to lead or co-lead this fusion.” Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Germany’s Tom Enders should take the helm of a merged European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. with the U.K.’s BAE Systems Plc, the economic-policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said.

Enders, the EADS chief executive officer who previously ran its Airbus SAS unit, “is the right man to lead or co-lead this fusion,” Michael Fuchs, a CDU deputy leader, said today in an interview in Berlin. “I applaud him and his team.”

Jockeying for management influence underscores the political dimension of the bid to form a pan-European group with a market value of about $45 billion encompassing civil jets, warplanes and nuclear submarines. Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that the government has reservations about such a merger, while France declined to comment and the U.K. indicated it has yet to decide.

“We are working with the companies to ensure the public interest is properly protected,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman, Steve Field, told reporters in London today. “It’s a commercial matter. They’ve been keeping us informed of their discussions and will continue to do so.”

The potential combination “is being examined,” Merkel told reporters in the eastern German town of Koethen. The German Economy Ministry said earlier that the government had been asked to support the deal and is studying “all relevant questions” relating to the proposed merger.

EADS Ownership

EADS has moved to the French city of Toulouse, already the home of Airbus. The French government owns 15 percent, German carmaker Daimler AG controls 22.5 percent, of which 7.5 percent is owned by German federal states and some banks, and the Spanish government owns 5.4 percent. Decisions on the merger will be taken in close consultation with France, the German government said.

“It’s a strategic discussion,” French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said in an interview on France Inter radio, declining to comment further.

“French and German influences seem to be safeguarded, but politicians need time to gain an overview,” Fuchs said. “What’s important is that Enders and top management of the companies get the political backing now that they need.”

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