Alcatel-Lucent SA has accumulated losses of EUR 4.8 billion since 2006. As part of its efforts to refocus itself and improve its financial position, the firm has sold its 20.78% stake in major defense electronics firm Thales SA to Dassault Aviation SA of St. Cloud, France.
The sale price is reported to be EUR 38 per share, or about EUR 1.57 billion (about $2.25 billion). Dassault already owns 5.2% of Thales, but this purchase will make it Thales’ second largest shareholder after the French government’s 27.1%. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and the standard caveats, but that is not expected to be a problem. In a separate statement, France’s Finance Ministry said it has struck a shareholder pact with Dassault Aviation that is nearly identical to the one the state had with Alcatel-Lucent. After the acquisition, the French state and Dassault Aviation will control 53% of Thales’ capital, and 61% of its voting rights.
Dassault’s own share structure is interesting; the Dassault family’s Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault holds 50.2%, European defense giant and frequent competitor EADS owns 46%, and the remnants are publicly traded. The EADS shareholdings are interesting, because the firm has been considering an ownership stake in Thales since at least 2006. Bloomberg News | Business Week | Reuters | Wall St. Journal (subscribers) | International Business Times re: France/Dassault agreement.