James Moore: Sorry Dick – despite what you say, the in-laws just don't like this marriage

Outlook The stock response by BAE Systems' chairman, Dick Olver, to just about any of the increasing number of awkward questions which have been raised about his ambitions to merge the company with EADS is that it's a great deal, trust us.

Don't worry about job losses, there's very little overlap between the two. Don't worry about who will be holding the whip hand over the, erm, Franco, German, Anglo, Spanish, Dutch hotchpotch, it'll be the customers (and the jobs will follow them).

Don't worry about where the corporate headquarters and the natural centre of gravity of the business is, we haven't yet decided. But the civil business will be headquartered in Toulouse (for now) and the defence business in London (for now). The corporate headquarters will effectively be in an Airbus we'll be dusting down to ferry the executive committee around, because the nature of a truly global business like this means they'll be spending most of their lives in the air (but expect the corporate hq to be nominally in Toulouse anyway, even if it doesn't matter, which it does).

The problem with any deal like this is you can only work out whether the baubles promised by the architects are made of fools' gold or the real thing after five years or so. Five years ago (give or take) BAE pulled out of EADS and Airbus, and its shares shot up. But the world has changed, says Mr Olver, and now combining a civil aerospace business with defence looks like a great deal.

Except it doesn't. EADS wants the deal (or at least its executives do) because it hopes to rid itself of its political entanglements. BAE needs it because the defence market has been shrinking, because its shareholders are starting to ask awkward questions about where it is going, and because it's just possible that its preferred partner (Rolls-Royce anyone?) jilted it.

Trouble is, relationships begun on the rebound rarely end well. And Mr Olver has serious problems with the in-laws. This may be a "great deal" for BAE; EADS's chief executive, Tom Enders, may even manage to convince his masters in Paris that it's a great deal for them and that they'll still be able to exercise informal influence over the combined entity without a seat on the board

But President Barack Obama is another matter entirely. Mr Olver can talk about special security arrangements that prevent executives with dual nationalities from looking at propellers in Barrow (or in Baltimore) until he's blue in the face. That won't stop the Republicans from accusing Mr Obama of selling out the US military to the French if they feel in need of scoring a cheap point or two.

And what about Angela Merkel? Her political rivals are bound to cry foul at the prospect of the German part of the Franco-German EADS being vapourised in the untidy melange of the new company. German unions are already fuming.

They won't be inclined to take much on trust and talk of the deal's greatness won't be enough to convince them. One might ask why the British Government should be any different.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence