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EADS Names Gerwert to Lead Changing Cassidian Defense Unit

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. ousted the long-time head of its defense unit and replaced him with the chief operating officer as it seeks to revitalize the business after losing major sales campaigns.

Bernhard Gerwert will head the Cassidian business with immediate effect, succeeding Stefan Zoller, who will step down to pursue other opportunities, EADS said today in a statement.

Zoller’s departure after seven years at the helm is the biggest personnel change yet under EADS Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders, who once ran the military business. Zoller failed to win German government backing for the Talarion drone, and campaigns to sell the Eurofighter have failed to win several contracts, with Switzerland and India picking rival jets.

“Gerwert faces a number of challenges,” said Commerzbank analyst Stephan Boehm, including gaining emerging market customers to offset budget declines in Europe.

The partners in the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter-jet consortium, which includes BAE Systems Plc and Finmeccanica SpA, are negotiating to sell the final batch of the twin-engine combat aircraft to initial customers Germany, the U.K., Italy and Spain. The four countries have funded the purchase of the so-called Tranche 3b of aircraft.

“It is imperative that we focus our efforts on those areas where we can deliver consistent revenues with strong margins,” Enders said in a statement. Under Zoller, “Cassidian succeeded in improving significantly its profitability in a difficult market environment,” he said.

Cassidian had sales last year of 5.6 billion euros, out of out of 49 billion for all EADS. The subsidiary announced a long-term cost reduction program last year, an effort that Gerwert, 59, will now be tasked with accomplishing.

EADS increased 43 cents, or 1.4 percent, to 30.75 euros at 4:23 p.m. in Paris, valuing the company at 25.44 billion euros ($32 billion).

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