France sells 1 percent stake in Airbus for 451 mln euros

France sells 1 percent stake in Airbus for 451 mln euros

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
France sells 1 percent stake in Airbus for 451 mln euros

An A350 jetliner is seen during its roll out in Toulouse.The French government has lowered its Airbus shares by 1 percent with 451 million-euro sale. AP photo

The French state has raised 451 million euros ($614 million) by selling a one percent stake in European aircraft and defense corporation Airbus Group, the economy minister said Jan. 16.

The divestment, of around 8 million shares to institutional buyers, brings France’s stake in the publicly traded group to 11 percent, the same as Airbus Group partner Germany.

Airbus Group, the new name for what used to be known as EADS, has seen its shares gain 74.63 percent over the past year, to 56.44 euros per share, in large part thanks to management reforms carried out in 2013.

Debt reduction aimed

French Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici announced the sale, saying it would lower the French government’s stake to a level on par with that of Germany’s, as per a bilateral pact. Germany recently raised its stake to the 11 percent level.

Spain’s government holds a smaller stake of just over 4 percent in the European group. Moscovici Jan. 16 revealed that 451 million euros had been raised from the stake sale.

France has been selling off some of its state holdings in companies in a bid to bring down its debt mountain, which is equivalent to 94 percent of GDP. Last year it raised 2.4 billion euros through divestments, nearly half of that through an earlier sell-off of Airbus Group shares.

Airbus Group is riding high after announcing this week its best commercial performance in its history, with notably 2013 being a record year for orders of Airbus aircraft, though deliveries still trailed those of U.S. rival Boeing.