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Thales to Hire Former Vivendi CEO Levy to Replace Vigneron

Thales SA, Europe’s biggest defense electronics maker, will name Jean-Bernard Levy as chief executive officer to succeed Luc Vigneron, who will step down early, according to the company’s largest private owner.

Charles Edelstenne, CEO of Dassault Aviation SA, which owns almost 26 percent of Thales, told journalists today on a press trip that Levy, formerly chief of Vivendi SA, will be named to the Thales job tomorrow. Dassault is the company’s top owner after the French government.

Vigneron, formerly chief executive of state-owned tanks maker Nexter, was tapped by the government and Dassault in 2009 amid a reshuffling of the shareholder structure in which Alcatel-Lucent SA divested its holding and Dassault boosted its investment.

Levy was chief executive of Vivendi for seven years until he was ousted in June after months of tension with Jean-Rene Fourtou, the chairman since 2002. The disagreements were said to center on Levy’s resistance to turnaround scenarios.

Messages left at Thales’s press office and calls to a spokesman’s mobile phone weren’t immediately returned. Vigernon’s mandate had been set to last through 2014.

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