Paris signals need for exec changes at EADS

20th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 20, 2006 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Thierry Breton met Tuesday with EADS co-chairman Arnaud Lagardère to discuss possible management changes following the crisis at the European aerospace group sparked by delays in delivery of its flagship Airbus A380 super-jumbo.

PARIS, June 20, 2006 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Thierry Breton met Tuesday with EADS co-chairman Arnaud Lagardère to discuss possible management changes following the crisis at the European aerospace group sparked by delays in delivery of its flagship Airbus A380 super-jumbo.

He told parliament that he had met Lagardère "to discuss possible changes" in the group's shareholding structure and its management.

"The French state holds 15 percent of EADS shares under a pact agreed in 2000," Breton said.

"Some people today consider that this pact does not give enough power to the state, because it is the industrial shareholders, namely Lagardère (which owns 7.5 percent of EADS shares) and Daimler (22.5 percent) who control the operational management."

Arnaud Lagardère is also head of a media and technology group that bears his name, which cut its EADS stake in half to 7.5 percent in April.

Breton's announcement came after a press report Tuesday that German shareholders of EADS had asked Noël Forgeard to quit as co-chief executive at a meeting in Munich on Monday.

The Frenchman refused, the business daily Handelsblatt reported.

DaimlerChrysler, which holds a stake in the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company (EADS), declined to comment on the report.

But EADS denied it.

"We firmly deny the report," said spokesman Michael Hauger.

Forgeard is under fire as a result of the revelation of delays in delivery of the A380, made by EADS' Airbus unit, and the controversy over large-scale selling of EADS shares by the Frenchman and other top group officials.

Sources familiar with the matter said that the co-chairmen of EADS, Lagardère and Manfred Bischoff of Germany, and the two co-CEOs, Noël Forgeard and Thomas Enders, attended the meeting on the EADS crisis in Munich on Monday.

Officially, the group said that no decision was reached at the meeting.

"It was a working meeting to discuss the situation and to find ways of avoiding such delays again in the future," the EADS spokesman said.

Similar meetings would be held in the coming weeks, he said, adding that it was not a matter of "pointing fingers."

The French stock market regulator watchdog, the AMF, was meanwhile Tuesday at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse in southwestern France to continue its inquiry into the company, an EADS spokesman said.

The AMF said Friday it had been conducting an inquiry into the sales of EADS shares for several weeks.

In mid-afternoon trading Tuesday, EADS shares were up 2.98 percent at 20.75 euros on the Paris CAC 40 exchange.

EADS stocks have been steadily regaining ground after the company lost a quarter of its value last Wednesday after it announced the A380 delays.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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