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Poland to enter pan-European aviation holding?

9th December 2013
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The Polish government is interested in acquiring a stake in EADS, the producer of Airbuses

The biggest CEE economy wants to acquire a small 1-2 percent stake in The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which manufactures Airbus planes and various military equipment. 

The Airbus is EADS's flagship product
Courtesy of EADS

As EADS is co-owned by other EU states, talks are occurring at the highest echelons of power. “It’s one of the options we are considering, although talks are at the very preliminary stages,” said Poland’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Jacek Sońta. “It’s a matter of giving Polish arms companies a chance to be present on the European market,” he added.

Part of the equation

The stake which Poland wants to acquire is not significant. France has a 12 percent stake in EADS, Germany 10.7 percent, while Spain has only 4 percent, but it will make Warsaw part of one of the most significant players in the global aviation sector. It will also be a good solution for EADS, as Poland is about to start spending heavily on modernizing its army, with plans to fork out some zł.240 billion by 2022.

Polish authorities have already said that Polish companies, or international companies present in Poland, will be favored in future tenders as it wants the economy to benefit from the investment as well.

EADS is in the running for a zł.8 billion tender for new helicopters for the Polish Army. The company is among three still eligible (along with US-based Sikorsky and the British-Italian firm AugustaWestland). Being partially owned by the Polish government won’t hurt EADS’s chances.

What’s in it for us?

The question remains how Poland could acquire the stock. “Our shares are on the market, anyone can buy some,” said an EADS spokesperson when asked by AFP. But since Polish politicians are involved in the talks, the feeling is that they might undertake a different path. When the holding was created, Spain, Germany and France transferred some of their existing facilities into the holding in exchange for shares. Poland could do the same.

Still, without waiting to see whether Poland will acquire shares or not, EADS is making a move to further expand on Polish territory before the next Polish Army tenders are announced. The company currently owns PZL Okęcie, which has announced it will make a completely new plane to be used by firefighters.

EADS vice-president Fabrice Lievin told daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that according to the company’s new strategy, Poland will be one of the five most important markets for the holding. However, its details depend on whether EADS wins any tenders here.

Our rule is that every złoty that the government spends buying our equipment will be returned to the Polish economy in the mid-term period. We want to invest in Poland both in production as well as in research and development. We also want to order spare parts here,” Mr Lievin said.

Jacek Ciesnowski

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