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France to sell 34% of Arianespace

A consortium made up of aircraft giant Airbus and rocket-engine builder Safran will buy a 34 per cent stake in launch company Arianespace, and in addition to its existing 39 per cent holding. The French state is expected to earn around €100-200 million from the sale.

The scheme has been under discussion for some months but French prime minister Manuel Valls is reportedly now going to approve the move. The current stake is held via France’s CNES space agency.

A new company will be formed in October to administer the end result, Airbus Safran Launchers, which will then own some 75 per cent of Arianespace.

The new business will then fund the on-going development of the improved Ariane 6 rocket launcher, and claimed to be a more cost-effective launch vehicle than arch-rival SpaceX’s Falcon design.

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