Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) (www.eads.com) says it is selling off six of its plants to British, French and German companies, as it focuses on "core activities". The sites are the manufacturing plant at Filton in the UK, Meaulte and Saint Nazaire Ville in France, and Nordenham, Varel and Augsburg in Germany.
Three firms - the UK's GKN, Latecoere in France and MT Aerospace - were named "preferred bidders" for the sites.
The Airbus and EADS plants concerned employ a total of 9,400 workers.
The plant at Filton, Bristol, has two main tasks - design engineering, and manufacturing and assembling wing components. It is only the manufacturing part - which employs 1,800 peeople, about a quarter of the total employees - that is being sold.
The affected sites will continue to produce parts for the existing Airbus planes - A320 group, A330/A340, and A380 - for which Airbus has an order book of some 3,000 aircraft.
"The EADS board of directors has authorized the management of EADS and Airbus to enter into negotiations with the preferred bidders on remaining issues and the required final due diligence," EADS said in a statement. It added that the target was "to achieve a final agreement as soon as possible".
The plant transactions are expected to be completed in the summer of 2008, when the sites will transfer to their new owners, and will continue to be given Airbus "work packages". EADS and Airbus management will continue negotiations with the buyers on remaining issues and the required due diligence.