TCI Launches Airbus Campaign

Aug 5 2013 | 11:28am ET

The target of its latest activist campaign may be a willing interlocutor, but that's no guarantee of success for The Children's Investment Fund.

The hedge fund on Friday wrote to European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the parent of Airbus, pushing it to rid itself of its 46% stake in Dassault Aviation. And, according to the Financial Times, EADS executives may like to do so.

But EADS holds the Dassault stake under a warehousing agreement with the French government, which owned one of EADS' predecessor companies. And it is unclear whether France would be willing to allow EADS to do away with Dassault.

TCI wants EADS to sell the stake through a trade sale or public offering, and to use the proceeds to return capital to investors. The hedge fund complained that the stake offers "no synergies" and "little strategic value" for EADS, which is soon to be renamed Airbus Group.

"EADS will clearly need the permission of the French government to sell the stake," TCI's Ben Walker told Reuters. "We want to get all parties to table to reach a decision. The consolidation of the French defense industry is long overdue."

TCI owns about 1% of EADS; the French government holds a 12% stake.

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