KKR seeks bids for stake in German defence supplier Hensoldt - sources

FRANKFURT, April 21 (Reuters) - Buyout group KKR is soliciting bids for a large stake in Hensoldt as it looks to exit the German defence supplier following the company’s 2020 stock market listing, people close to the matter said.

The private equity firm, which still owns 43% in Hensoldt, earlier this year offered a large stake in Hensoldt to European defence groups including France’s Thales and Italy’s Leonardo, the people said.

Talks on the sale of a stake of up to 29% are ongoing, but no final decision has been taken, one of the people said.

Any deal is being complicated by “golden” shares in the company held by the German government, which has expressed concerns in the past about keeping jobs and technology in Germany, the people said. The shares give Berlin powers to block decisions concerning the company.

KKR, Hensoldt and Thales declined to comment on the news, which was first reported by manager magazin, while Leonardo was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner. Additional reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Francesca Landini. Editing by Mark Potter)