Winners and losers in Thomson’s rejig

GEC-Marconi could be a big winner and British Aerospace and its French partner Matra big losers in this week’s all-French restructuring of the state-controlled defence corporation Thomson-CSF. The French state will cut its stake in Thomson-CSF from 58% of the equity to 30 35%, leaving 20 25% to Alcatel Alsthom, 10% for state aircraft firm […]

GEC-Marconi could be a big winner and British Aerospace and its French partner Matra big losers in this week’s all-French restructuring of the state-controlled defence corporation Thomson-CSF.

The French state will cut its stake in Thomson-CSF from 58% of the equity to 30 35%, leaving 20 25% to Alcatel Alsthom, 10% for state aircraft firm Aerospatiale and a portion for Dassault. Around 30 35% will be in public hands.

The new group will be the world’s biggest military communications company and hold strong positions in other defence fields.

GEC-Marconi said: ‘It’s very good news the decision has been taken. We have existing joint ventures with Thomson in Thomson Marconi Sonar and GEC-Thomson-Dasa Airborne Radar and look forward to working with them in future.’

A spokesman said it would be premature to talk about GEC equity participation in the new Thomson-CSF and was not sure if it was a possibility, despite earlier French government statements identifying GEC as a potential equity holder.

UBS analyst Sash Tusa said: ‘The important thing is that BAe was closely linked with Lagardere and is out of the picture. GEC is very strongly linked with Dassault and has extensive relationships with Alcatel, through power group GEC-Alsthom. The French government sees GEC as one of Thomson’s chosen future partners’.