Dassault Aviation SA is poised to sign a second export contract of its Rafale combat jet as French President Francois Hollande prepares to fly to Qatar next week to seal the contract for 24 planes.
Dassault, which is 24.6 percent owned by Airbus Group NV, won its first Rafale export customer in February after Egypt said it will buy 24 as part of an arms package valued at 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion). India, which was negotiating directly with Dassault for an order of 126 Rafales, said April 16 it will instead go for a contract to buy 36 Rafales directly from France for the time being.
The planned purchase by Qatar may further buoy prospects for sales of the plane outside France, intensifying competition with rivals including the Eurofighter consortium that’s also trying to win orders. Dassault has said it’s also talking to about a half dozen other potential buyers including the United Arab Emirates.
Airbus reported first-quarter earnings today and announced a 697 million-euro gain from selling a 17.5 percent stake in Dassault. Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said Airbus will continue to reduce its holding in the company.
Dassault rose 2.4 percent to 1,179.95 euros at 11:51 a.m. in Paris, taking its advance to 11 percent this year.
Thales SA, one quarter owned by Dassault, provides electronics for the Rafale and Safran SA builds engines that power the plane.
France, the Rafale’s only customer prior to the Egyptian accord, is eager to keep defense costs under control and has been pushing to help Paris-based Dassault secure export orders to offset the expense of building the 11 planes each year needed to sustain production.