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Russia's Vneshtorgbank could sell stake in EADS

State-controlled Vneshtorgbank is considering selling its 5 percent stake in Airbus parent company EADS, the bank said Wednesday before a meeting between French and German leaders next week that will focus on the company's management.

In a surprise announcement last year, Vneshtorgbank, or VTB, said it had acquired 5 percent of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV.

The Russian government - which is rebuilding the domestic aviation industry under a state-owned umbrella corporation - had been hoping to raise the stake and secure a place on the board of EADS, which itself owns 10 percent of Russian plane-maker Irkut.

EADS has said, however, that the Moscow bank would not be welcomed as a decision-making industrial shareholder.

"We are considering the possibility of selling the EADS shares, but that doesn't mean that we are going to sell them immediately," the VTB press service said Wednesday.

VTB managers said in June that they could sell the stake if they were offered an attractive price.

Nataliya Orlova, a banking analyst with Alfa Bank in Moscow, who participated in a meeting Thursday between VTB bank executives and analysts, said the bank had expressed the desire to sell the stake at a profit, ideally by the end of the year. "They don't plan to sell at a loss," she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet new French President Nicolas Sarkozy next week at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse. The talks, which are not expected to deal with the VTB stake, will focus on the balance between French and German interests in EADS' management structure.

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