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TAUFKIRCHEN / ROM (dpa-AFX) – The Italian defense and aviation group Leonardo has made the race to enter the German defense electronics manufacturer HENSOLDT. The US financial investor KKR is selling a share package of 25.1 percent to the Italians, as Hensoldt announced on Saturday in Taufkirchen near Munich. A corresponding sales contract was concluded about this. Leonardo pays 23 euros per share and thus around 606 million euros in total, as the Italians announced. Hensoldt had already confirmed KKR talks with several interested parties for the share package during the week. Authorities have yet to approve the deal.
“With this transaction we have a second long-term anchor shareholder in our company and a strong potential strategic partner with whom we are already working successfully on a number of programs,” said Hensoldt boss Thomas Müller, according to the announcement.
The shares now change hands with a significant premium of almost half. On Friday evening, the Hensoldt shares listed in the SDAX closed in electronic Xetra trading at a price of EUR 15.58. They had already grown significantly in the days before due to the takeover fantasy that had arisen. At the beginning of April, the share was only worth around 13 euros. KKR had Hensoldt listed on the stock exchange for 12 euros each in September 2020.
At the end of March, KKR had already sold a blocking minority of 25.1 percent to the federal government. Germany got involved with Hensoldt because the company also supplies key technologies from the fields of crypto technology and sensor technology, which the federal government wants to prevent unwanted access. Hensoldt is the former radar division of the aerospace company Airbus (Airbus SE (ex EADS)), which the financial investor took over in 2017.
Italy’s Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini praised the deal on Twitter. Leonardo is moving in the direction of European cooperation in the defense sector. The Italian state holds a good 30 percent of the shares in Leonardo.
After the completion of the sale of shares to the federally owned Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and Leonardo, KKR will then hold a stake of around 18 percent in Hensoldt, the company said. Leonardo expects to be able to complete the share purchase in the second half of the year. With the contract for Leonardo, other interested parties such as the European arms companies Thales (France), Saab (Saab AB) (Sweden) and Indra (Spain) are left with nothing. In particular, Thales had been given good prospects in media reports./men