The new board of European space and defence group EADS has approved an 18-month share buyback plan worth up to 3.75 billion euros ($4.8 billion), the company said on Tuesday. The European Aeronautic Defence & Space company, which owns the plane maker Airbus, will buy up to 15 percent of EADS stock at a maximum price of 50 euros per share, a statement said, using cash on hand, and then cancel the shares. The move was approved by shareholders last week. EADS shares were worth 41.16 euros when trading closed on Tuesday. EADS, in which France, Germany and Spain hold stakes, is in the midst of a transformation to a diversified group subject to less state intervention, and aims to have 72 percent of its capital floating freely on stock markets by next year, compared with less than 50 percent in early December. Tom Enders, who has been reappointed as chief executive, was quoted as saying that \"the share buyback programme emphasises our commitment to create value for all shareholders\". EADS plans to buy back the shares using several methods \"including on stock exchange, in private purchase or via derivative products, subject to market conditions, applicable legal requirements, and other applicable laws\", the statement said. Under the group\'s new structure, the German government is to own a direct holding of 12 percent, the same level as France, while Spain plans to trim its 5.4 percent stake to 4.0 percent. In a separate statement, EADS said it would establish a single operations headquarters in Toulouse, southern France by September 1, which would include positions currently based in Munich, Germany and in Paris.