The CEO of European plane maker EADS said Thursday that his company is looking for a "medium-sized" acquisition in the U.S. following a failed bid for a $35 billion Pentagon contract.
EADS, the parent of Airbus, wants to grow its defense and security business, which it sees as less risky than the commercial aircraft market. CEO Louis Gallois didn't give details about the kind of company EADS wants to buy in the U.S., or when it would make an offer.
"It's clear we need to be more in the United States," Gallois said at a news conference with reporters. "We have to be considered as a U.S. citizen."
Earlier this month, EADS pulled out of bidding for the Pentagon refueling tanker contract, saying a smaller plane offered by rival Boeing Co. appeared to be the front-runner. EADS, which had partnered with Northrop Grumman for the 179-tanker order, has criticized the contract as anticompetitive.
"The U.S. Air Force will not have the most modern, most capable airplane," Gallois said. "It'll be the first time the British, the Australians have a better airplane than the Americans."
Gallois said it's unlikely that EADS will submit a new bid for the tanker contract.
Instead, EADS will move to make other deals in the U.S. Building its presence here through acquisitions may bolster its case when bidding for national defense contracts, but "that would not be the objective," said Sean O'Keefe, CEO of EADS North America.
EADS will be looking to invest in parts of the country where it sees a long-term financial interest. It won't be searching for areas with sympathetic members of Congress "because as we all know that changes every few years," O'Keefe said.
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