Leading shareholders of British arms maker BAE Systems PLC (IW 1000/158) said they have called on the company's chairman to resign following the collapse of a mega-merger with European aerospace group EADS NV (IW 1000/59).

BAE's biggest shareholder -- fund manager Invesco Perpetual, which holds 13.3% of the group -- along with two other stakeholders, has written to BAE demanding that chairman Dick Olver step aside after the collapse of merger talks this month.

The three groups, together owning 18% of BAE, also demanded the resignation of BAE's senior independent director, Peter Mason, a spokesman told AFP.

"Invesco has written to the board in a letter calling upon the chairman and the senior independent director to stand down," he said.

Ahead of the merger collapse, Invesco had publicly opposed plans for a tie-up, arguing that it failed to see the "strategic logic" of a deal.

Responding to Invesco's latest move, a BAE spokeswoman said: "We are in regular dialogue with our major investors and we listen carefully to the views of all our shareholders. The board of BAE Systems remains fully supportive of its directors."

An attempt to create the biggest aerospace and defense group in the world became mired in the quicksand of politics and eventually failed earlier in October.

The dream stopped short when both groups scuttled further talks over irreconcilable differences between the leaders of Britain, France and Germany.

In France on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault praised EADS, despite the collapse of its plans to merge with BAE Systems.

The prime minister told EADS chief Tom Enders: "I have complete confidence in the strategy of the group you lead, and I wish you good luck and success in all the projects you undertake."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012