Merger of BAE and EADS 'close to collapse'

 
BAE plane National governments are keen to protect their strategic interests

BAE and EADS could well abandon their plan to merge tomorrow, depending on the outcome tonight of make-or-break talks between the British, German and French governments.

It all hinges on whether France and Germany agree to significantly limit their power to influence the merged companies.

According to well-placed sources, right now it looks unlikely that they will agree to the terms demanded by the British government and by BAE and EADS.

In which case, the deal will collapse.

There are three so-called red lines for the companies and for the UK government.

First, that neither France nor Germany should ever own more than 9% of the enlarged group.

Second, that there should be no formal agreement between the French and German governments that they would vote their shareholdings together or in concert.

Third, that directors appointed by governments to a planned new "national security board" - designed to protect the security interests of countries in which the merged group has big operations - should not sit on the top board of the merged group.

I am told that France and Germany want their representatives to also sit on the holding company board.

"There must be no interlocking directorships," said a source.

Right now, getting guarantees from France and Germany on all this is proving impossible, but that could change in the course of the night, I am told.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron is being kept abreast of events.

BAE has a deadline of 17.00 BST tomorrow to decide whether to ask the UK Takeover Panel for an extension of two weeks to the allotted time for negotiating the merger. BAE's board is planning to make its decision tomorrow morning, having reviewed tonight's inter-governmental talks.

My sense from those close to the negotiations is that the collapse of the deal is the most likely outcome.

UPDATE 07:20 BST

A source close to inter-governmental negotiations on EADS's plan to merger with BAE Systems has told me "there was no help from Germany overnight".

In other words, there still appears to be an insuperable obstacle to the deal, which would create the world's largest defence and aviation business, worth around £28bn.

As I explained last night, the boards of the two companies will call the whole thing off, unless persuaded that France and Germany will significantly curb their ownership and control of the enlarged company.

Talks between the British, German and French governments are expected to continue this morning.

But it is increasingly likely that the boards of EADS and BAE will decide to kill the deal, before today's 5pm deadline for requesting an extension to the negotiations.

UPDATE 09:17 BST

My hunch is we will get statements from BAE and EADS around lunchtime or shortly after saying merger is off. Boards will discuss shortly before. The worry in both companies is that the German government is not bending.

UPDATE 12:43 BST

BAE/EADS deal is dead, I have learned. Boards have decided. I will be interested to see what statements say about possibility of trying again in six months.

The reason that they killed the deal is they learned that the German government is opposed to the merger in a fundamental sense.

 
Robert Peston, economics editor Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 114.

    So many people talking rubbish and grinding political axes. Whilst BAE isn't growing at the mo, it has considerably over the last 10yrs or so, due to US military spending. I always thought they were foolish to get out of civil aviation but there was some logic. Military has far greater margins, as evident by BAE and EADS making the same profits when BAE is much smaller. Try bying Bombadier etc.?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 113.

    108. Harry - typical chip on shoulder bitter nonesense! I'm sure you'd blame the British Gov for the Japanese Tsunami if you could. If you bothered to read what the Chair of EADS said, it was down to the GER gov. Read between the lines. He sees FRA and GER gov involvement either inhibiting business or interferring. The Brit gov has no say in BAE only a "golden vote".

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 112.

    I would imagine that as a result of this deal collapsing the people on the shop floor are cheering & the boardroom members are crying on one another's shoulders.
    This country has avoided selling out for the sake of a few bonuses for the big wigs at the expense of it's military future independence.
    If BAe had merged with EADS it would have been asset stripped & left Rolls Royce next in line. Saved

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 111.

    #107 agree to a degree MOD has issues becaus eof too much political intererance and that cause trouble for UK buisness. Still can have a degree of free market but they have to inside the UK.

    #108 so it ok to trust the germans/french to run our business BUT not the UK/shareholders to ru nthe french/german buisnesses. U need to take the blinders of.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 110.

    104.IR35_SURVIVOR

    With the MOD's shocking ability ot procure anything at a decent price Gordon Brown probably did us a favour cancelling programmes before they got out of hand......

 

Comments 5 of 114

 

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