It may have an ungainly name, but when the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. takes flight this July in a multibillion-dollar initial public offering, the Old World will finally have a player able to deal as an equal with the likes of U.S. aerospace giants Boeing Co. or Lockheed Martin Corp. Combining France's Aerospatiale-Matra, Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA), and Spain's CASA in the largest cross-border industrial merger in Europe's history, EADS will have $21 billion in sales. "The whole sense of EADS is to carry the same weight as the American groups," says co-CEO Philippe Camus. "It's more and more of a global market."
EADS represents a personal triumph for the mild-mannered but intense Camus, who will run the company with DASA CEO Rainer Hertrich. Camus, 52, was instrumental in the on-again, off-again secret talks with DaimlerChrysler and the French government late last year, which led to the EADS merger. But Camus, a key figure in French aerospace since joining the Matra missile group in 1982, never lost faith that a deal could be hammered out.
The jewel in the crown of EADS will be its 80% stake in Airbus Industrie, which will now switch from a marketing consortium to a real corporation. That should help Airbus, already neck-and-neck with Boeing in the race for new jet orders, to further boost its competitiveness, Camus says. You can be sure that Europe's Mr. Aerospace will be leading the charge.