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Airbus signs mega deal with China as profits soar

An Air France Airbus A320 aircraft takes off at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, in this October 27, 2015 file photo.
An Air France Airbus A320 aircraft takes off at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, in this October 27, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files

European manufacturer Airbus has signed a letter of intent to sell 100 helicopters to China and build an assembly plant there, in a deal worth 750 million euros, sources reported on Friday.

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The deal was inked shortly before German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in China on Thursday. She's one of many European leaders to flurry to Beijing in recent weeks to compete for a share in the world's second largest economy.

If Germany is yet to pencil any deals, its aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which Berlin controls 37.9% of shares along with France, has done. On Thursday, the European manufacturer signed a letter of intent for the sale of 100 H135 helicopters worth 750-million euros to the Asian giant.

The lucrative sale came a day after an accord between Airbus and state-owned China Aviation Supplies Holding Group for 100 A320 aircraft worth $9.7 billion (8.8 billion euros) at list prices.

Thirty options for twin-aisle A330s, which were among a 75-plane deal announced in June ahead of a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Airbus headquarters in the French city of Toulouse were also confirmed, according to Merkel's spokesman.

Airbus announced on Friday it would ramp up production of its best-selling A320 jet as overall profits climbed by 42 per cent. Strong sales and a firm dollar have contributed to its bouyant spring.

Airbus -- which has an assembly facility in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin -- is engaged in a fierce struggle with the US' Boeing for dominance in the crucial Chinese market.

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