Airbus completes sale of its Defence Electronics unit to KKR

European aerospace and defence giant Airbus Group SE yesterday said that it had finalised the sale of its Germany-based Defense Electronics business to US private equity firm KKR after it received all approvals, including from the German government.

In March last year, Airbus had agreed to sell its defence electronics business to KKR for $1.2 billion retaining a minority stake. (See: KKR to buy Airbus Group's defence electronics unit for $1.2 bn)

"Airbus has agreed to maintain a 25.1-per cent minority stake for a limited number of years post-closing until the full separation of the sites," Airbus yesterday said in a statement.

The France-based portion of the business will be transferred to KKR once the carve-out of the French entity in Elancourt, near Paris, is completed. The closing of this part of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval from the French government.

''We are pleased to finalise this transaction, which represents another major step forward in the strategic rationalisation of Airbus' defence activities,'' said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. ''After streamlining our portfolio we are now well positioned with a clear focus on smarter products, more service-based offerings and accelerating digital innovation.''

Post closing, the company will be renamed Hensoldt.

Johannes Huth, member and head of KKR Europe, Middle East and Africa, said, ''KKR will support the growth and development of Hensoldt into a leading European defence company with its financial resources and its extensive experience building successful industrial companies, such as MTU Aero Engines, Demag Cranes and Kion.''

Early last year, the Airbus Group said that it had put its defence and security electronics and satellite communications services businesses up for sale in order to make its defence and aerospace subsidiary leaner and more sustainable.

The company had earlier planned to sell its defence electronics and border security units as one package, but its aim of concluding a deal by early 2016 was delayed due to an ongoing border project in Saudi Arabia.

Airbus Group's defence electronics business operating under the name Defence Electronics, makes components for radars, optronics, electronic warfare and border control applications, which are used in surveillance or for equipment used by pilots to fly at night or in fog conditions.

The Ulm, Germany-based company employs around 4,000 people worldwide, and has annual revenues of around €1 billion ($1.06 billion).