India in Discussion with Dassault Aviation for $15B Rafale Combat Aircraft Contract

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December 5, 2012 4:13 PM EST

Talks between French plane-maker Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) and India over a $15 billion Rafale fighter contract are continuing, Dassault's chief executive said, adding he was "relatively optimistic".

India selected the Rafale to enter exclusive negotiations for a potential 126-plane order in late January, beating the competing Eurofighter Typhoon (EAD.PA) (SIFI.MI) (BAES.L) and lifting hopes for a sale that would boost French pride and restore the luster of its aviation industry.

"We are deep in talks at the moment. It's a complicated country, the negotiations are tough, but there is a desire to wrap up on both sides," CEO Charles Edelstenne told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday.

"I'm relatively optimistic."

Edelstenne also said that growing public speculation over a change at the top for subsidiary Thales (TCFP.PA) - which he described as an "eventual change in governance" - was having an impact on talks with clients and making them more difficult.

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