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Airbus warns of fraud probe damage despite profits leap

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Work on an Airbus A380 plane inside the Air France KLM maintenance hangar at Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

European aircraft-builder Airbus announced a leap in profits in the third quarter of 2017 but warned that its financial performance could take a hit from corruption investigations in France and Britain.


"The investigations initiated by the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and France's Parquet National Financier (PNF)... could have a material impact on the financial statements, business and operations of Airbus," a statement released Tuesday said.

But it added that it was too early to determine the likelihood or extent" of any damage.

The Toulouse-based company is being investigated in France and Britain for alleged irregularities concerning third-party consultants that the company itself detected and reported to the authorities.

It is also under investigation in Austria and Germany for possible corruption related to the sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria.

The company, which is locked in commercial battle with American counterpart Boeing, also informed the US at the beginning of 2016 of anomalies it had found in contracts for the export of military equipment and related services.

No military secrets have been revealed, the company says, and it is continuing to apply for export licences.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders warned the company's employees at the beginning of October of a "turbulent and disturbing period" ahead, saying that there could be severe penalties.

Profits soar in third quarter

There was good news in the planemaker's third-quarter profits, however.

They soared to 348 million euros from just 50 million euros in the same quarter last year, largely thanks to the exchange rate.

In the nine months to September the rise was not so impressive - up just two percent to 1.851 billion euros on a one-percent increase in revenues to 42.953 billion euros.

That result would have been better had it not been for problems with the delivery of new fuel-efficient engines for the A320neo jet.

In all 90 A320neo aircraft were delivered to 19 customers in the nine-month period, the company announced.

The target set at the beginning of 2017 was for around 200 A320neo deliveries for the full year.

But "due to engine availability issues... A320neo deliveries are now expected to be slightly below that target," Airbus said.