There is strong interest in Ford Aerospace among some European companies who see it as a way of breaking into the U.S. space and defense market, according to the recent issue of Space News. Ford Motor Co. is trying to sell Ford Aerospace, which produces satellites and missiles and also owns BDM, a Northern Virginia company that provides engineering and other professional services to the Pentagon.

Aside from Matra, the French aerospace conglomerate that already has been mentioned as a possible purchaser, Space News said other interested partiesinclude the merged commercial satellite divisions of Aerospatiale and Alcatel Espace in Paris, and Finmeccanica, the financial arm of Italy's state-owned defense industries, which is reportedly considering a bid on behalf of the Italian aerospace firms Aeritalia and Selenia. Analysts and investment bankers also say there are unconfirmed rumors that a Japanese company has expressed interest in buying Ford Aerospace.

U.S. companies said to be interested include Loral Corp., Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Litton Industries Inc. Although interest in Ford Aerospace has been strong, most analysts say the bids received so far probably were considerably less than the $1 billion Ford had hoped to get. They also speculate that many of the potential buyers would probably try to sell BDM if they acquired Ford Aerospace.