Après Alstom énergie et Technip, Airbus est-il menacé de passer sous contrôle américain ?

De noirs nuages s’amoncellent au-dessus d’Airbus empêtré dans plusieurs enquêtes sur des soupçons de corruption. Un audit interne, confié à un cabinet d’avocats new-yorkais, pourrait-il menacer le groupe d’une prise de contrôle américaine ?

De noirs nuages s’amoncellent au-dessus d’Airbus empêtré dans plusieurs enquêtes sur des soupçons de corruption. Un audit interne, confié à un cabinet d’avocats new-yorkais, pourrait-il menacer le groupe d’une prise de contrôle américaine ?

Avec la prise de contrôle sans bourse délier du programme CSeries, l’activité moyen-courriers du canadien Bombardier, annoncée le 16 octobre au soir et saluée par la bourse, tout semble sourire au géant européen de l’aéronautique Airbus. Mais de sérieuses menaces planeraient pourtant sur son avenir, selon son président, l’Allemand Tom Enders. Dans une lettre envoyée le 6 octobre aux 134 000 salariés du groupe il annonçait : «Préparez-vous à vivre une période turbulente et déroutante». Il prévenait aussi que le groupe pourrait être amené à payer des amendes importantes dans le cadre de plusieurs enquêtes ouvertes en Europe (Autriche, Allemagne, France et au Royaume-Uni), sur diverses irrégularités dans des contrats de ventes d’appareils civils ou militaires.

Au Royaume-Uni, le groupe lui-même s’est signalé, en juillet 2016, auprès de l’UK Export Finance (UKEF) pour de possibles «anomalies» dans l’élaboration de dossiers de demande de financement auprès de cet organisme de crédit à l’export, cousin britannique de la COFACE française. Le groupe aurait omis de mentionner des intermédiaires commerciaux, ce qui est contraire à une loi britannique adoptée en 2006. Mais l’UKEF s’étant déclaré non-compétent, le dossier a été repris par le Serious Fraud Office (SFO) un organisme plus spécifiquement chargé de la lutte contre la corruption, en collaboration avec le parquet national financier (PNF) français. Airbus a depuis été privé de crédits de financement pour ses exportations au Royaume-Uni, mais aussi en France et en Allemagne.

La stratégie visant à aller au-devant de la justice européenne, soi-disant pour éviter des poursuites américaines, est mise au compte de l’anglais John Harrison. Cet ancien du groupe Airbus l’avait quitté quelques années auparavant pour rejoindre Technip, un fleuron français de l’ingénierie pétrolière, avant de revenir chez Airbus en 2015. Mais le nom de John Harrison, est justement associé à la fusion de Technip, à la suite de déboires avec la justice américaine, à 50/50 avec l’américain FMC pourtant trois fois plus petit que lui. Un scénario qui rappelle celui du passage de l’activité énergie d’Alstom, sous le contrôle de l’américain General Electric en 2015.

La direction d’Airbus s’est-elle jetée dans la gueule du loup ?

En août 2017, notre confrère Marianne consacrait une importante enquête titrée «Airbus risque de tomber aux mains des Américains». On y apprenait que Tom Enders avait confié au cabinet américain Hughes Hubbard & Reed un audit interne sur les pratiques commerciales du groupe aéronautique. Or, la loi américaine impose à tout cabinet d’avocats américain qui aurait connaissance d’irrégularités chez ses clients d’en informer la justice américaine. La direction d’Airbus ne s’est-elle pas jetée dans la gueule du loup ? Contacté par RT, le service communication d’Airbus a dit n’avoir pas connaissance d’une enquête américaine en cours sur ses activités commerciales sans toutefois en exclure la possibilité.

De lourdes pénalités financières en vue, comme Technip et Alstom

Pourtant, on imagine mal qu’ayant eu à soumettre tous ses documents internes liés à la conclusion de contrats de ventes sur lesquels la direction du groupe elle-même a montré qu’elle avait des soupçons, Airbus pourrait éviter de passer par la case «lourdes pénalités financières américaines». De nombreuses entreprises françaises comme Technip et Alstom l’ont connue avant lui. En effet, pour la justice américaine, il suffit qu’une entreprise étrangère utilise le dollar dans ses transactions pour qu’elle soit justiciable devant les tribunaux américains.

Les américains sont en train de prendre le contrôle d’Airbus

Difficile de savoir à quoi faisait allusion Tom Enders dans sa lettre aux salariés du 6 octobre quand il écrivait : «N’écoutez pas les discours simplistes ou nationalistes, n’alimentez pas les rumeurs.» Mais, pour certains, la prise de contrôle d’Airbus a, en réalité déjà commencé. Ainsi, en juillet 2016, dans le magazine Causeur, Roland Hureaux, haut-fonctionnaire français et essayiste s’alarmait déjà de ce qu’Airbus ait cessé, selon lui, d’être français. Il s’intéressait à la nomination de l’Américain Paul Eremenko à la direction technique du groupe, après une partie importante de sa carrière au DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), l’agence de recherche du Pentagone. Tout aussi inquiétante avait paru à l’essayiste haut-fonctionnaire la vente en mars de la même année de la division d’électronique de défense du groupe au fonds américain KKR dirigé par l’ancien directeur de la CIA, le général David Petraeus.

Invité de l’émission le Grand jury sur RTL, le 15 octobre, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, président du groupe La France insoumise (LFI) à l’Assemblée nationale s’alarmait : «Les Américains sont en train de prendre le contrôle d’Airbus. On a viré tous les Français des postes de commandement, maintenant on commence à y mettre des Américains.» Même s’ils ne mentionnent pas le cas spécifique d’Airbus, évoquant en revanche ceux d’Alcatel, d’Alstom et de STX France, les députés Les Républicains (LR) s’alarment aussi de l’accumulation de passages sous-contrôle étranger de grand groupes industriels français. Selon l’AFP, les députés ont demandé, le 17 octobre la création d’une commission d’enquête parlementaire sur la politique industrielle de l’Etat et sur les moyens de protéger ses «fleurons industriels».

 

Source:RT

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