France, Germany mull EADS management issues

22nd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 22, 2006 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Thierry Breton will meet Thursday with EADS' German co-chairman Manfred Bischoff to discuss trouble at the European aerospace group, and said he wants to move quickly on a search for solutions.

PARIS, June 22, 2006 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Thierry Breton will meet Thursday with EADS' German co-chairman Manfred Bischoff to discuss trouble at the European aerospace group, and said he wants to move quickly on a search for solutions.

"We are going to see if the governance is working well, I asked Mr. Bischoff to come see me today," Breton told France Inter radio.

Bischoff represents the interests of German-US automaker DaimlerChrysler, a core shareholder in the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company.

The French minister added that he had met Tuesday with Arnaud Lagardère, the French co-chairman of EADS, and on Wednesday with Noël Forgeard, the group's co-chief executive.

Breton said it was important to maintain "serenity in cases like this. We must not react in haste".

But he added that with respect to the search for solutions at EADS, he wanted "things to happen normally, calmly and rapidly".

The aerospace group was hit last week by the announcement of a second six-month delay in deliveries of the A380 super-jumbo jet produced by its aircraft unit Airbus, which EADS said would cut 2.0 billion euros from its operating profit over four years.

It then emerged that Forgeard had exercised stock options in mid-March and sold EADS shares for a profit of almost EUR 2.5 million euros, which he said took place a month before he learned of problems with the A380.

The French financial markets authority AMF is investigating those and other sales of EADS stock by senior executives, as well as by DaimlerChrysler and Lagardere.

An association of small shareholders has filed a complaint alleging insider trading by those who exercised stock options before news of the A380 delay was unveiled.

On Wednesday, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said there were "urgent decisions to be taken" regarding EADS, in which the French state holds a 15-percent stake.

Breton declined Thursday to comment on calls for Forgeard to be removed from his post, saying only: "I have faith in the AMF, I would appreciate it if we all refrained from drawing hasty conclusions.

"We have institutions which function remarkably well, the AMF is one, it is independent and it will report its conclusions."

He acknowledged however that "the choice of men in business is always fundamental."

The affair has sparked speculation of Franco-German tension at EADS but Breton said: "We are partners, we are not enemies, we are allies, we have a common project.

"If we see that things need to be improved and we can improve them, we will make joint proposals."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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