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Germany has no plans to sell stake in Airbus: government official

[BERLIN] Germany has no plans to sell its 11 per cent stake in Airbus Group SE, Europe's largest aerospace company, a senior German government official said on Tuesday.

Brigitte Zypries, parliamentary state secretary at the German Economics Ministry, told Reuters that Germany had in the past considered selling its stake in the European aerospace firm to cash in on gains in Airbus shares, but decided to maintain its stake to preserve its voice on the company's board.

"It has proven valuable as a instrument to ensure us a role in the company's management, Ms Zypries said in an interview.

"We want to remain a country that can play a role in Airbus and maintain and strengthen this European company as a European company," Ms Zypries said on the eve of the Berlin air show.

"This stake in Airbus is not up for discussion."

Ms Zypries' comments came shortly after Germany's economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said he would welcome an alternative offer for industrial robot maker Kuka following Chinese home-appliance maker Midea's 4.5 billion euro (S$6.88 billion) takeover bid.

Kuka is the latest and biggest German industrial technology group to be targeted by Chinese buyers as the world's second-largest economy makes the transition from a low-cost factory location into a high-tech industrial hub.

German government sources have said Berlin will examine how critical Kuka's technology is for the digitisation of industry, an economic priority for Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

A sale of Germany's stake in Airbus could open the door for a Chinese firm to buy a stake in the company.