'BAE to appease shareholders with buyback'

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 19:21 hrs

BAE Systems plans to spend the proceeds of a Saudi arms deal on a share buyback to appease investors following the collapse of its $45 billion (£28 billion) merger with Airbus parent EADS, the Sunday Times reported.

The defence group has been in negotiations with Saudi Arabia on the Typhoon Salam programme to supply the Gulf kingdom with Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters, a deal which is worth more than £7 billion. BAE sources said a share buyback was a likely use of cash from the deal, the British newspaper said. Invesco, BAE's biggest shareholder, has been pushing the company's directors to return cash since May last year when its top fund manager Neil Woodford wrote to chairman Dick Olver, the Sunday Times said.

The letter, which the newspaper said it had seen, criticised the company for considering takeovers rather than share buybacks, and made clear that Woodford would consider all options including a push to replace the board.

The newspaper said he was now seeking to rally other shareholders to push for a buyback and new management, it said. Talks to create the world's largest aviation and defence company collapsed on Wednesday.

Invesco, which holds a 13.4 per cent stake in BAE, had opposed the deal on concerns over state interference, poor terms and a lack of strategic rationale.

BAE declined to comment on the report. Invesco was not immediately available to comment.

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