France sold Wednesday a portion of its holding in the aircraft engine and equipment manufacturer Safran to raise 448.5 million euros ($573 million).
After the sale of a 3.12 percent stake in the company, a global leader in engines, landing gear and electrical systems for aircraft, the French state was still the top shareholder with a 27.08 percent holding.
The Economy Ministry said that the French state intends to remain a long-term shareholder in Safran, but wanted to take advantage of a 40 percent gain in the company's share price in 2012.
Safran has benefited from the growth of commercial aircraft market. Its profit soared by 55 percent to nearly a billion euros last year on revenue that rose 15.5 percent to 13.6 billion euros.
The Economy Ministry said the funds raised would be used to fund investments aimed at encouraging growth, including capital for a new public investment bank.
The French state is facing difficulty in squeezing its public deficit back below the EU ceiling of 3.0 percent.
The sale knocked back Safran's share price, pushing it down 2.7 percent to 34.53 euros in midday trading in Paris.