April 16, 2015
Airbus plans 10% share buyback and to adopt European Company status
In a move designed to allow the Airbus board sufficient flexibility to distribute part of the proceeds from divestments, the Airbus Group intends to ask its shareholders to approve an exceptional share buyback of up to 10% of its capital at its annual meeting scheduled for May 27th. This exceptional buyback is totally separate from the share repurchase program covering up to 10% of the company’s capital, which is linked predominantly to employee share schemes. However the Airbus Group has no intention of retaining more than 10% of its own share capital subsequent to both buybacks, making it very clear that shares acquired through the exceptional buyback would be “promptly cancelled”.
In the meantime, the company is also pushing forward with its plans to obtain European Company status. The current company, Airbus Group NV, would be renamed Airbus Group SE, while still retaining its registered seat and head office in Amsterdam and listing in Paris, Frankfurt and Spain. In a statement from Airbus they said: “The main purpose of this move is to reflect, in its legal form, the diversified operational presence of the group in different European countries.” The company has come a long way since its inception back in 1967 as a result of a government initiative between Germany, France and the UK, while Airbus Industrie was officially established as a Groupement d’Intérêt Économique (Economic Interest Group or GIE) on 18th December 1970. Its initial shareholders were France’s Aérospatiale and Germany’s Deutsche Airbus, each holding a 50% share.
A European Company is governed by European Union law which applies in all 28 member states. The change at Airbus is intended to smooth the governance of companies formed either from cross-border mergers or with their principal operations in a number of other countries. Airbus Group removed the word “European” from its name last year when it changed from European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) to strengthen its plane-making brand and European credentials.