Defence giant BAE Systems today confirmed talks over a potential merger with Airbus aircraft manufacturer EADS to create the world's biggest aerospace and defence company.
BAE said a tie-up with European Aeronautic, Defence & Space (EADS) would form a "world class" firm in its sector, with combined sales of £60 billion and around 220,000 staff.
The merged group would employ around 48,000 in the UK alone.
A BAE spokeswoman said it was too early to confirm whether there would be any job losses, but stressed there was very little overlap between the two business activities.
Shares in London-based BAE soared 11 per cent on news of the talks.