French media group Lagardère has sold its 7.4 percent stake in EADS, the parent company of Airbus.
It comes after Arnaud Lagardère stood down as EADS chairman last month and marks the start of the long-expected overhaul in the ownership of Europe’s top aircraft maker.
Lagardere raised 2.3 billion euros through the sale.
EADS spent 500 million euros to buy 1.6 percent of its own shares, which was less than some analysts had predicted.
Lagardère’s exit from EADS will be followed by the withdrawal of German carmaker Daimler, paving the way for the aerospace group to have a larger free-market float with combined government stakes capped at 28 percent.
“Many investors we spoke to believed EADS would acquire 1 billion to 1.5 billion euros of the stock being placed by Lagardere,” JPMorgan Cazenove analysts said in a research note.
“It is unclear why EADS is not taking a bigger share of this placing but it is possible that EADS is prioritising increasing its free float over the accretion of a buyback.”
EADS may also want to “retain buyback ‘firepower’ to support its share price over the next 18 months,” the analysts added.
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