EADS power shifts to Germany

It’s more than likely that next Sunday will see Germany and France meet each other in soccer’s World Cup Final - but today in the macabre chess match that currently passes for management at EADS it was Germany that came out on top.


Consider: gone are the CEO of Airbus – the self-effacing Gustav Humbert who has fallen on his sword even though it is far from clear what role he played in the recent troubles; and also the co-CEO of EADS Noel Forgeard, whose limitless self-belief finally tried even the patience of his countrymen.


Humbert was allowed the dignity of a personal statement via his employers, Forgeard, who has come to embody French interests in the company, has gone so far without a public word.


And the replacements? For Forgeard, read Louis Gallois – as French as the man he replaces but one of the original architects of EADS, and brought back in surely as a reassuring presence to steady the ship. For Humbert, read Christian Streiff. Who? Well, Streiff’s primary characteristic is the way his career has straddled France and Germany working for the French group Saint-Gobain.


And his hometown, if you read French, turns out to be in the distinctly German-flavoured Moselle region. More pertinently, however, he will report not to Gallois but to EADS German co-CEO Tom Enders, who has remained virtually untouched by the recent corporate and personal horrors that have poisoned the company.


The seat of power has shifted and as I write this it seems that there is a key development in the process of extricating British interests from Airbus – appropriate, given England’s miserable exit from the World Cup last night. One way or another, Germany has flexed its muscles this week.

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