Wednesday’s collapse of the mooted EADS-BAE merger was blamed on the German, French and UK governments failing to agree terms.
BAE shareholders speaking to Reuters on Thursday were willing to give management time to recover from the affair, but analysts did not discount the possibility of shareholders looking for value through a break-up.
Most said BAE getting taken over in its entirety was unlikely given its size and tough competition rules in the United States where its most likely suitors operate.
But some saw a chance of a buyer looking at parts of the business. “We see a greater likelihood in one of the U.S. groups making an offer for (U.S.-based unit) BAE Inc,” said Societe Generale’s Khan.
“We believe that BAE should explore all options to maximise value for shareholders, including the disposal of the U.S. business.”
Management’s more mundane challenges also linger, including BAE’s retirement funding shortfall and rising net debt pile.
Net debt of 1.44 billion pounds in 2011 was six times the figure from the year before, while the funding gap jumped by more than 1 billion pounds.
Better cash inflow could come this year, management promised in an interim statement on Thursday, but linked this to securing the Saudi deal. Modest growth in 2012 underlying earnings per share would also hinge on that deal getting done.