Update, Sept. 13: Here are some stories from today:
BAE is the ninth biggest vendor to the U.S. government, with $7.3 billion in direct, or prime, contracts in the year that ended Sept. 30, according to a Bloomberg Government study ranking the top 200 contractors. EADS ranks No. 100, with $684 million in awards.
Reuters: US approval seen likely.
Mobile (AL) Press-Register: EADS-BAE in merger talks, with a spin on local impact.
The prospective combination of BAE Systems and EADS is a growth opportunity for EADS, particularly in the US, where it has been striving for years to expand its defense footprint.
BAE Systems in 2009 was the Defense Department’s #5 of the Top 10 defense contractors. At that time 50% of BAE’s business was in the US. We have checked more recent figures. EADS North America, during the KC-X tanker competition, did about $1bn worth of business with the US government, in defense, Homeland Security and other contracts. We don’t believe this has appreciably changed in the 18 months since the tanker contract was awarded to Boeing.
Although the immediate reaction among observers and media is that the combination will make a strong competitor to Boeing, in fact BAE Systems services defense segments that are more closely aligned with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman than with Boeing. There is also little if any overlap between BAE and EADS, whether here or in Europe and the UK, where BAE is headquartered.
BAE has about 40,000 employees in the US.
The combination, which has to be approved by the boards of both companies as well as a host of governments on both sides of the Atlantic, will certainly strengthen EADS and its argument that it is a substantial contributor to the US economy and US employment. Airbus, a wholly owned subsidiary that accounts for around 80% of EADS revenues, purchases $12bn in goods and services in the US and says it employs or supports 100,000 jobs directly or indirectly.
BAE, which owned 20% of Airbus until EADS bought these shares in 2006, isn’t a current supplier to Airbus. Although defense cuts in Europe and the US are limiting growth at this time, these come in cycles and BAE would strategically position EADS to grow its defense business and reduce reliance on Airbus revenues and financial performance.
The new company will be 40% owned by BAE shareholders and 60% owned by EADS shareholders. The current shareholdings in EADS of the German and French governments, presently 15% each, would almost certainly be diluted. (The German EADS shareholdings are currently indirect but may become direct. The French shareholdings are direct.)
The new company would be listed on several European exchanges, including BAE’s listing on the UK stock market.