A 7.5% stake in the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company that DaimlerChrysler might sell "must remain in the German sphere", government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said. Berlin was examining "various options", Wilhelm said, without specifying whether the government wanted the stake to remain in private hands or transfer to state ownership.
Whatever happens, "the Franco-German parity must be preserved", he insisted, taking the same line as Chancellor Angela Merkel following her talks with French President Jacques Chirac last week. EADS's share capital is currently held in a very delicate balance between French and German interests.
France is represented via a 30% stake placed with the holding company Sogeade, which includes 15% owned by the media group Lagardere, while Germany's interests are represented by DaimlerChrysler, which currently owns 22.5%.
Largardere has committed itself to halving its stake, which would put French interests back on a par with German interests. But DaimlerChrysler has indicated it might reduce its stake further to 15%, raising the question as to who would buy the 7.5%.
The holding group Sepi, which owns 5.48%, represents Spanish interests, while the Russian state-owned bank Vneshtorgbank bought 5.02% of EADS in September.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006