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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VTB Could Sway EADS Dividend Vote

PARIS -- Another French-German dispute inside Airbus parent EADS has left minority shareholders, including Russian state bank VTB, in control of a controversial dividend decision that could weigh on the closing stages of the French election.

The standoff means blocks of votes representing Europe's two main industrial powers inside EADS will automatically cancel each other out, leaving the group's usually powerless minority shareholders in full command of the delicate dividend vote.

These include VTB, which bought 5.02 percent of EADS stock last year. It swooped on EADS when share prices were weakened by delays to the prestigious superjumbo project, raising political hackles in Paris and Berlin.

With the presidential vote two days away and aircraft workers staging regular strikes over job cuts, Paris has blocked German calls for a payout to investors that unions say might rekindle protests seen earlier in the campaign.

Airbus is emerging from its darkest period, dominated by a two-year setback to Europe's biggest industrial project, the A380 superjumbo, as well as management changes, a slump in the dollar, a Russian share raid and a police probe into insider dealing.

The plane maker lost its position as the world's biggest seller of commercial jets to Boeing and plunged into a loss, dragging 2006 EADS net profits down by 94 percent to 99 million euros.

Carmaker DaimlerChrysler, which controls 22.5 percent of EADS, wants investors to get a payout to reward their patience, sources close to the matter said. Lagardere, the French core industrial shareholder which has 7.5 percent alongside the government's 15 percent, has backed the government in saying it does not seek a dividend.

Barring a last-minute breakthrough at the board, minority shareholders controlling 41 percent will be able to vote on whether to return all or part of the profits to investors.