France sells 2.1% in EADS for $920 million

France yesterday sold 17.6 million shares or 2.1 per cent stake in European aerospace and defense group European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. (EADS) for €707 million ($920 million).

The sale comes a few days after the French government sold 13 million shares in EADS for €483 million, giving the government a total of €1.19 billion.

Post sale, France's voting right in EADS will reduce to 12 per cent as agreed by France, Germany and Spain in order to change the company's shareholder structure by reducing government interference and cap their combined holdings at 28 per cent.

The sale also comes a few days after French media giant Lagardère SCA exited from EADS by selling its entire 7.4 per cent stake for €2.28 billion, and Daimler AG, the world's third-largest luxury carmaker, sold its remaining stake for €2.2 billion.

EADS, which came into being following the 2000 merger between Aérospatiale-Matra, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG, and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA, emerged as a symbol of Franco-German-Spanish integration alongside the euro, but within half a decade it had become the focus of industrial tensions between the three main euro zone economies.

EADS is a very profitable defence contractor. It has a market cap of $31.4 billion and generated net profit of $1.6 billion in 2012 on revenues of$ 73.7 billion.

It is the parent company of Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter and employs over 140,000 people.