PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) plans to take control of the European missile company MBDA after Italian defence group Finmeccanica SIFI.MI put its stake up for sale, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported.
It said the European aircraft maker wants to add Finmeccanica’s 25 percent slice of the company, which supplies more than 90 countries with weapons, to its 37.5 percent stake.
It said the deal could force the hand of MBDA’s third shareholder, BAE Systems (BAES.L). The British defence conglomerate, which also holds 37.5 percent, faces the dilemma of whether to bolster its position, accept becoming a minority player, or sell outright to Airbus.
Airbus and BAE have first refusal on Finmeccanica’s stake, which analysts estimate could be worth about 700 million euros (527.77 million pounds), the newspaper reported.
Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Finmeccanica had no immediate comment. In June, a restructuring by Finmeccanica left MBDA out of a corporate restructuring.
Airbus, for its part, in September put the business at the centre of a non-jetliner portfolio focused on aeronautics and space.
Reporting by Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier in Paris and Valentina Za in Milan. Editing by Jane Merriman