A Wake Up Call For Airbus

Nothing gets a company moving like a good scare. On Dec. 13, the board members of Europe's jet giant Airbus Industrie left the negotiating table in Toulouse, France, after failing to agree on the terms of a badly needed restructuring. Two days later, Airbus' U.S. rival, Boeing Co., suddenly said it would merge with McDonnell Douglas Corp. Airbus now stands alone in the market against a Goliath with $48 billion in sales. Still, that challenge may be just the catalyst Airbus needs to plunge ahead with a badly needed makeover. "The Boeing deal is like a detonator. It will set a lot of things in motion," says Brussels-based analyst Philippe Grasset.

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