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Gas Investment is the Ticket for a Russian Stake in EADS

Today Deutsche Welle is reporting on some recent comments made by Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for equal investment terms with Russia, and tacitly referring to their interest in Europe’s largest defense group. While Merkel has stuck to her guns on opposing a larger Russian presence in the group, yesterday their seemed to be a clear, underlying message: if you want a bigger stake in EADS, you have to open up some major gas fields for European investment. gasarms.jpggasarms2.jpg Opening Up Natural Gas Investment Gets You a Stake in a Defense Conglomerate Russia already owns a small stake in EADS, and it is somewhat curious that they are so eager to acquire a larger one. Since the delivery debacle with the Airbus A380, the departure (no pun intended) of Daimler, the bitter infighting between France and Germany about who should absorb the painful cutbacks, the stock price has performed atrociously. But gaining influence in EADS is not really about financial sense – it is an investment in political influence. From Deutsche Welle:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was opposed to Russia being part of the pact of shareholders currently controlling European aerospace giant EADS and that Moscow should open its markets to the EU. The chancellor said she agreed in principle in Russia investing in Europe but added that Russian investment should be matched by equal opportunities for European companies to invest in Russia. “We count on Russia being a reliable partner,” she said in an interview with the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday. “I therefore agree in principle to Russia getting economically involved in Europe. But good economic relations between Russia and the EU can only be based on reciprocity. “Equally, we have an interest in acquiring the ownership rights to Russian gas fields,” the chancellor said. EADS not ready for more investors Franco-German aerospace venture EADS, however, is one company Merkel said should not be open to Russian investment. “At the moment, we shouldn’t admit another stakeholder into the shareholder pact,” she said. “But I support closer cooperation in aircraft construction, as EADS has already begun to do.” The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company is controlled jointly by France and Germany, with the delicate balance of power resting on a complex construction of multiple shareholdings, both public and private. Last summer, however, the Russian state bought a stake of between 5 percent and 7 percent via state-controlled bank Vneshtorgbank (VTB) and Russia is believed to be eager to gain a greater say in EADS. Nevertheless, Moscow has been keen to calm European concerns on the matter, with President Vladimir Putin insisting recently that Russia wanted “cooperation” with EADS, and had no plans for a “hostile takeover.”