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Airbus Safran Launchers Becomes a Shareholder in Arianespace

Artist's view of the Ariane 6; Copyright ESA–D. Ducros, 2014
Artist’s view of the Ariane 6; Copyright ESA–D. Ducros, 2014

Following the completion of all the necessary regulatory, consultation and approval procedures, Airbus Safran Launchers has now purchased the shares in Arianespace held by the French space agency CNES (Centre national des études spatiales). The transaction will close on 31st December 2016.

As industrial lead contractor for Ariane 5 and the future Ariane 6, Airbus Safran Launchers was already the leading Arianespace shareholder, with a stake of about 39%, which has been increased by this operation to 74%.

As a subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers, Arianespace will remain a company in its own right, with headquarters in Evry, a facility in French Guiana and offices in Washington, Tokyo and Singapore.

“With the confirmation by the Member States of the European Space Agency of the development of Ariane 6, this change in the shareholder mix at Arianespace finalises the creation of a new launcher governance in Europe. Together, we will be more effective in providing our customers with more efficient solutions and in developing new operational synergies, both for Ariane 5 and for the future Ariane 6”, Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Safran Launchers stated. “This change in the shareholder mix enables us to retain all the key factors in the success of Arianespace, which have made it the world leader in launch services, in particular for its freedom of action and its reactivity, allowing it to adapt to the changes of an increasingly competitive market. The governance change also ensures that the roles of the other Arianespace shareholders will be preserved and in addition will benefit the Vega and Soyuz launchers. I would also like to pay tribute to CNES, a key French and European player in independent access to space, whose support and commitment have enabled this major evolution of the governance of space launchers in Europe to take place.”

Commenting on this operation, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “This sale of CNES’s holding in Arianespace is a new step forward in the restructuring of Europe’s launchers sector decided by ESA’s member states and proposed by CNES at the initiative of France. The restructuring hinges on three areas: development of Ariane 6 and Vega-C with a view to halving launch costs per kilogram compared to Ariane 5; support for continued operations of Ariane 5 until Ariane 6 comes on stream; and a simplification of Europe’s launchers sector around the three key players that are ESA, CNES and ASL. Together, these changes should enable Europe to retain the leadership position it has steadily forged in the commercial launch services market over the last 35 years.”

The buyout of the Arianespace shares held by CNES (about 35%) is an integral part of the ambitious triple initiative announced by the Airbus and Safran groups in June 2014:

  • The creation of a joint subsidiary, Airbus Safran Launchers, grouping their civil and military space launcher skills and assets
  • The development of the new Ariane 6 launch system, which is more competitive and adaptable to market needs
  • The implementation of a new form of governance for European launcher programmes, in which industry takes on greater responsibility, up to and including commercial operations

The new Arianespace shareholder mix is part of the response to the request from the ESA Member States for implementation of the new European launchers governance arrangements further to the decisions taken at the ESA Ministerial Conference at the end of 2014.

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