Airbus chief Forgeard tipped to co-pilot EADS

8th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 8 (AFP) - Noel Forgeard, chief executive of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company's aircraft unit Airbus, is to replace EADS co-CEO Philippe Camus when his term ends in July, a press report said here Wednesday.

PARIS, Dec 8 (AFP) - Noel Forgeard, chief executive of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company's aircraft unit Airbus, is to replace EADS co-CEO Philippe Camus when his term ends in July, a press report said here Wednesday.

Forgeard, who turned 58 on Wednesday, would be responsible for the French interests in EADS, a 30.07 percent stake held in equal parts by the state and the French industrial group Lagardere.

"Noel Forgeard will be EADS' French co-pilot," the financial daily La Tribune said in the headline to its report.

But a Lagardere spokesman said Wednesday as a meeting of French shareholders in the European aerospace group was taking place: "There will be no announcement of nominations for EADS directors today."

Sources close to the matter later said the announcement could come before the end of the year.

Nominations are also unlikely to emerge from a key EADS board meeting Friday as that session is scheduled to discuss the possible launch of an Airbus A350 model that would compete with the planned Boeing 7E7, the Lagardere spokesman said.

EADS is to renew its directors' mandates in July, and Camus, a rival of Forgeard and his superior in the group's management structure, has said he would like another term.

But Arnaud Lagardere, head of the eponymous group and the formal French decision maker, has finally chosen Forgeard in accordance with the wishes of French President Jacques Chirac, La Tribune reported, without citing sources.

The current Airbus chief is a close ally of Chirac and advised him when he was French prime minister.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Lagardere, who is co-chairman of EADS' board of directors along with the German Manfred Bischoff, told AFP that Lagardere had made his mind up long ago and would announce the decision "at a moment of his choosing".

French government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said Wednesday it wanted the decision taken "amid calm and on the basis of a sound industrial project".

A sector analyst who wished to remain anonymous told AFP: "It is clear that the pulling out of Rainer Hertrich (the German co-EADS CEO publicly opposed to Forgeard) is positive for the Airbus chief."

Hertrich announced Saturday through a spokesman that he would not seek another mandate, with the spokesman adding that the decision had been made while "there were not yet any waves on the French side."

He is to be replaced by compatriot Thomas Enders, an EADS board member responsible for defence activities.

The rivalry between Forgeard and Camus was already strong when they both worked for Jean-Luc Lagardere, Arnaud's father, who died in March 2003.

In an interview with the French weekly Le Point in April 2004, Forgeard paid homage to his former boss and mentor, while slipping in a barb at Camus.

"We had developed an intellectual complicity such that we often understood each other without words," he said in reference to the elder Lagardere.

"He had such talent that he gave this feeling to many people. It was true for some, not for others."

Alluding to Camus' hesitation at launching the Airbus A380 super jumbo program, Forgeard added: "Philippe backed prudent conditions. That was his role as financier with respect to we who are industrialists."

The program is estimated to cost EUR 10 billion (USD 13 billion). On the Paris stock exchange EADS shares fell 1.15 percent to EUR 23.23 on Wednesday.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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