Safran Agrees €8.5bn takeover of aircraft seat maker Zodiac
by Michael Stothard and Anne-Sylvaine Chassany in Paris and James Fontanella-Khan in New York
French engine maker Safran has launched an agreed €8.5bn cash bid for troubled aeroplane seat maker Zodiac Aerospace, uniting France’s two largest aeronautic suppliers and marking the latest move towards consolidation in the sector. Safran said on Thursday it was buying Zodiac, which is controlled by a group of families, after its share price slumped almost 22 per cent over two years following problems in the production of seats for Airbus’s latest A350 wide-body plane. The deal comes amid broader pressure from Airbus and Boeing on global suppliers as they attempt to ramp up production to meet record order backlogs. It follows the $6.4bn acquisition of B/E Aerospace by Rockwell Collins last year. It is also the latest big deal in France just months before the presidential election in April and May. This week Italy’s Luxottica and France’s Essilor agreed to a €50bn deal that would create the global leader in the fast-growing eyewear industry. Executives at the groups saluted the creation of a European champion, which will be the world’s third largest aerospace supplier by revenue. Olivier Zarrouati, chairman of Zodiac Aerospace’s management board, said he was “excited by the prospect of joining Safran and creating a global leader, with a strong European base.