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Tue, Dec 18, 2007

France Moves To Block Relocation Of EADS Plants Abroad

And Germany Doesn't Want Airbus Plants Sold To Spirit

An already-controversial suggestion that European aerospace and defense consortium EADS may relocate some production facilities abroad has met with further protest from France.

"As a shareholder, the French state makes sure that industrial competences are kept in France. We will intervene if necessary," an unnamed source in the French president's office told Reuters.

"It is not in our interest that the EADS management moves activities outside Europe for temporary reasons," she added. "We will do all we can to persuade and dissuade, and we will use all the means we have to avoid (outsourcing)," including offering tax breaks.

As ANN reported earlier this month, EADS CEO Louis Gallois shocked officials when he flatly said planemaker Airbus might build a new plant in the state of Alabama to assemble its planes, to take advantage of the current weakness of the US dollar versus the euro.

The move would allow Airbus to manufacture aircraft in the same currency in which they are sold; currently, Airbus takes a hit on each airframe sold as they are assembled in euros, but sold in dollars.

Officials in the French government said EADS shouldn't make rash investment decisions, based on what they called short-term fluctuations in exchange rates.

Meanwhile, a report this weekend that EADS planned to sell four Airbus plants to US-based Spirit AeroSystems has also attracted political fallout -- this time, from Germany, home to three of those plants.

"We want a German solution for the German plants that are for sale," Focus magazine quoted a German government representative in Berlin as saying.

EADS officials plan to meet Wednesday to discuss the sale of those plants.

FMI: www.eads.com, www.airbus.com

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