Europe Battles For More Defense Business

A new US$13 billion sales group, a product of the partial privatization of France's state-owned Aérospatiale and Matra Hautes Technologies, the weaponry wing of the Lagardére defense and media conglomerate, is looking to do battle against bigger rivals Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon Co.

Its presence brings the creation of a massive European defense industry several steps closer -- although Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace and British Aerospace remain reluctant to enlist because of doubts about France's commitment to privatization. If the French do commit to the market, however, both European defense contractors and Airbus Industrie, the civil-aircraft consortium now trying to restructure as a corporation, will become more formidable competitors for world business.

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