European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. named Tom Enders chief executive officer from June 2012 to succeed Louis Gallois as part of a management reshuffle aimed to maintain a balance between French and German shareholders.
Enders, a 53-year-old German, has been CEO of Airbus since 2007, the same period in which Gallois, 68, has run the parent company. Fabrice Bregier, chief operating officer at Airbus under Enders, will succeed him as CEO at the planemaker, while Arnaud Lagardere will succeed Bodo Uebber as chairman of EADS, the Paris- and Munich-based company said in a statement today.
“The management is grateful that the board has taken these wide-ranging decisions, in a dispassionate climate, and timely to facilitate a professional transition,” Gallois said. “Tom Enders not only has a wide range of experience across our businesses, but strong leadership skills and charisma with an established track record.”
The moves were originally hatched in 2007, when EADS ended seven years of dual management and switched to one CEO. Gallois, a Frenchman, was named to lead EADS, with Enders giving up his co-CEO title to run Airbus (EAD), the biggest revenue contributor to the parent company. Shareholders agreed to alternate nationalities after five years, highlighting government interest in Europe’s largest aviation and defense company.
As part of the changes, EADS also proposed former European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet as a member of the board. Trichet stepped down last year at the Frankfurt-based bank. Each mandate announced carries a five-year term.
The succession, which becomes official after a May shareholder meeting, comes as EADS is struggling to increase the percentage of shares available in the open market and let core shareholders Daimler AG (DAI) and Lagardere SCA (MMB) plan an exit without putting EADS at the risk of hostile takeover.
The French state now owns 15 percent of EADS and Lagardere owns 7.5 percent and has voting control over the whole French stake. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, now controls 22.5 percent of EADS and is selling a third of that stake to the German government after it failed to find other private buyers within Germany.
The company also announced a switch for the chief financial officer, with Airbus CFO Harald Wilhelm taking on the same role at EADS. He succeeds Hans Peter Ring, who will retire.
EADS was formed in July 2000, bringing together aerospace assets from France, Germany and Spain. Enders ran EADS’s military business when EADS was first founded, becoming co-CEO in June 2005. He also worked for Daimler’s aerospace division until it was merged into EADS.
“As CEO of EADS he’s still got to deal with the challenges he faced at Airbus, managing the production ramp-up, keeping the A350 on track, and also the A400M, as well eliminating losses on the A380,” said Zafar Khan, an analyst at Societe Generale in London. “And then he needs to continue integrating the group more, and finding more common synergies, including purchasing, across the different businesses.”
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