EADS Bids for Stake in Italy’s Avio Space-Propulsion Business

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. said it’s aiming to buy a stake in Italy’s Avio SpA as private equity firm Cinven Ltd. seeks to cut its holding in a company whose remaining business is focused on rocket engines.

“We made an offer in the frame of the disposal process,” EADS spokesman Martin Aguera said by e-mail. Cinven has a 81 percent stake in Rome-based Avio, with 14 percent held by Italian aerospace company Finmeccanica SpA.

General Electric Co. bought Avio’s commercial aircraft engine activities this year in a $4.3 billion transaction that did not include space propulsion activities involved in powering rockets such as Europe’s Ariane 5 launcher.

Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer Alessandro Pansa said Nov. 8 the company was in talks with Cinven and “other international companies” about further investment in Avio.

Safran SA also made a non-binding offers for Avio valued at around 300 million euros, Defense News said in September, citing an unidentified person familiar with the talks. CEO Jean-Paul Herteman said Oct. 24 it would “make sense” to combine the company’s space activities with Avio. Spokeswoman Catherine Malek declined to say today whether a bid was made.

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