France Pushes Lauvergeon for ‘Major’ EADS Role in Board Revamp

The French government is positioning Anne Lauvergeon, the former chief executive officer of nuclear-plant builder Areva SA, for a key role at European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.’s revamped supervisory board.

“She’s a woman with great talents that should be fully tapped, we want them to be,” Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said today on France Info radio. Her experience in industry means she should be able to “to play a major role” at EADS.

Le Figaro newspaper reported earlier today that President Francois Hollande wants Lauvergeon to head the EADS board, in what would mark a comeback for one of France’s best known corporate leaders. Lauvergeon, 53, was denied a third term in 2011 by then President Nicolas Sarkozy as CEO of Areva, which is majority owned by the French state.

The French government, which holds a 12 percent stake in EADS, said yesterday that Lauvergeon and former European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet will represent it on the board of EADS. The nominations are part of a board shake-up required after Germany agreed to take a direct stake in the parent of Airbus SAS for the first time.

EADS is now led by Arnaud Lagardere, whose media company owns a stake in EADS. The main shareholders have historically been wary to balance Franco-German representation in key positions, with the chairman and CEO role split between the two countries. Tom Enders, the EADS CEO, is German.

Lauvergeon, trained as a physicist at the Ecole des Mines de Paris, worked at the French atomic energy agency in the 1980s before joining the staff of former President François Mitterrand. She then became a partner at what is now called Lazard Ltd. In 1999, then-President Jacques Chirac tapped her to run Cogema, a state-owned nuclear fuel business.

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