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EADS Boosts Airbus Power in Leadership Committee Realignment

European Aeronautic, Space & Defence Co. Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders added two Airbus SAS managers to the senior committee, signaling an effort to tie the most prominent unit closer to the parent company.

John Leahy, the 62 year-old American who has headed Airbus sales for almost two decades, and Airbus Chief Operating Officer Guenter Butschek will join the group, EADS said in a statement today. Enders also promoted Bernard Gerwert, who took over as head of the Cassidian defense unit this week.

Since his appointment as CEO in May, Enders, 53, has worked to bring greater cohesion to EADS and link it more tightly to Airbus, which contributes two thirds of group revenue. Leahy, who has outlived eight sales chiefs at Boeing Co. and is most closely associated with Airbus’s ascent to industry leader, will now be in a position to help advance EADS’s other units, including helicopters, defense and space.

“Leahy, who’s been so strong for Airbus sales, will likely be asked to boost the other divisions by helping them with best practices in marketing and sales,” said Yan Derocles, an analyst at Paris-based Oddo. EADS may move toward further integration by allowing sales teams across different divisions to make global offers, he said.

The group of 13 now has six Airbus executives including Leahy and Butschek. The others are Fabrice Bregier, the 51 year-old Airbus CEO, as well as Thierry Baril, head of human resources, and Harald Wilhelm, chief financial officer. Domingo Urena-Raso, head of Airbus Military, remains in the committee. Baril and Wilhelm hold the same posts at EADS and Airbus.

Enders is bringing the mother ship physically closer to its biggest division by moving the EADS headquarters to Toulouse, in southwestern France, where Airbus is based. EADS’s operational headquarters in the past were split between Paris and Munich, a legacy of efforts to finding a balance between France and Germany and reflect the shareholder structure.

Leahy’s move to the corporate vehicle signals that even at an age when many French executives retire, he will be sticking around for a few years, Oddo’s Derocles said. Leahy said in an interview with Bloomberg Television this week that he’ll stay put for several years.

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