Paris: British aerospace group, BAE Systems, has sold its stake in European airliner manufacturer Airbus back to EADS, and says that it will take ''years'' for the Toulouse-based firm to return to acceptable levels of profitability.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, Mike Turner, head of BAE Systems, defended the decision to sell the stake, at what critics said, was a low price. Turner, who said he was "satisfied" with the sale, told the paper, "You might as well ask me what would have been our position today if we had not yet sold? Given that the dollar has lost value against the euro, that Boeing is making a comeback and, in my view, it will take Airbus years to return to an acceptable level of profitability."
Airbus, which has been complaining about the effects of the dollar's fall on its bottomline made an operating loss of euro 881 million ($1.4 billion) last year on the back of a loss of euro 572 million in 2006. Early on in the week, Airbus, which books most of its costs in euros but sells in dollars, raised the catalogue prices of its aircraft.
The UK aerospace giant, by contrast, "generates half of its business in the United States where its investments and costs are in dollars," Turner said.
"However, we suffer a slight negative effect when we convert profits made in dollars into pounds sterling in our accounts." Turner said.
According to Turner, BAE Systems would pursue its programme of making acquisitions in the United States, where it has bought 14 companies over the last eight years.
He also said that BAE intended to develop partnerships in India, which would become its "seventh domestic market," and that it was also mulling investments in South Korea and in Japan. He clarified that the company was "not interested in China nor Russia at the moment."