Dassault Aviation has come to an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent to buy the 21% stake the latter holds in French defense and aerospace electronics group Thales.
The parties have been in talks for several weeks, and have now worked out a deal that seems to satisfy all. Dassault is paying €1.57 billion for the stake, in a transaction due to close in the Spring.
Dassault Aviation also is taking on the 5.1% Thales stake that its parent Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault already held; Dassault bought into Thales in part to assure electronics developments for the Rafale strike fighter.
The deal is intricately linked to discussions with the French government. Together, they control 53% of capital and 61% of voting shares in Thales. In a joint statement, Dassault and the government say they “share the same strategic vision, which calls for French companies in the sector to join with Thales as part of integrated ventures in optronics, inertial navigation, power generation and missile systems.”
Thales's ambitions to become a 35% stakeholder in French shipyard DCNS are also being supported – Thales already has a 25% stake.
EADS also was in the running for the Thales stake, but was outmaneuvered. EADS holds a large non-voting share in Dassault Aviation. EADS Louis Gallois has now resigned from the Dassault board of directors.