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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

European Aerospace Firms Eye Finmeccanica

ROME -- BAE Systems PLC CEO John Weston in an interview on Saturday matched a previous announcement by Franco-German aerospace group EADS, saying BAE will soon invite Finmeccanica to form an alliance.

Weston traveled to Rome in a bid to persuade the Italian defense and engineering company to abandon talks with its other suitor, the European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co.

That was after Philippe Camus, chairman of EADS member Aerospatiale-Matra, said in Rome the group would make an offer to Finmeccanica within weeks.

EADS is in the process of being formed this year by the merger of DaimlerChrysler AG's Aerospatiale-Matra and Spain's Casa.

"We are very near to making a proposal and we are convinced that it will be very attractive," Weston said in an interview with Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. "There are many reasons to prefer BAE."

Weston said BAE's offer would be better than EADS because it included a wider range of products and would give Finmeccanica a stepping stone into the lucrative U.S. market thanks to BAE's collaboration with Boeing Co.

BAE, the second largest aerospace company in Europe, and Boeing work together producing Hawk trainers and Harrier aircraft.

Weston said the alliance talks with Finmeccanica included combat aircraft, space, underwater systems, avionics, artillery and civil aviation.