Empresas y finanzas

Airbus to sell further 17.5 percent stake in Dassault Aviation

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus Group plans to sell a further 17.5 percent stake in business and fighter jet maker Dassault Aviation as it unwinds its 16-year-old link to its defence market rival.

After the placement of around 1.61 million ordinary shares, AIRBUS (EAD.PA) stake will drop to about 24.5 percent from 42 percent.

Airbus had cut its stake from 46.3 percent in November and said at the time it would make its "best efforts" to sell up to 10 percent more by the end of June through placements.

The initial disposal followed months of negotiations between Airbus, DASSAULT (DSY.PA)and the French government, on whose behalf Airbus holds its stake in an arrangement considered outdated by its management and some investors who have urged it to cash out.

Airbus announced the sale of a 15 percent holding initially on Wednesday before raising the amount to 17.5 percent later in the day.

Dassault Aviation, whose shares were suspended on Wednesday, said it would purchase up to 5 percent of its share capital at a maximum price of 980 euros per share. Airbus said that portion allocated to Dassault amounted to some 460,000 shares.

Airbus said on Wednesday that the French state had chosen not to exercise its right of first refusal on the stake.

The placement was accompanied by an over-allotment option of up to 120,000 shares, Airbus said.

Some institutional investors have indicated interest for the full amount of shares being offered at a price of 980 euros, Airbus said. The shares closed at 1,240 euros each on Tuesday.

Airbus would raise around 1.57 billion euros, based on a sale price of 980 euros.

The final terms of the placement are expected to be announced over the next day or so, Airbus said, adding that the proceeds would be used for "general corporate purposes".

BofA Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are acting as joint bookrunners for the placement.

(Reporting by James Regan; editing by Jason Neely and Keith Weir)

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