Co-CEO Enders explains decision not to sell EADS shares

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EADS co-chief executive Tom Enders has reportedly disclosed that he could have exercised share options along with other company directors in March but opted against doing so, suggesting that the timing was inopportune.

The statement, which is unlikely to ease Franco-German tensions within EADS, follows the focus on Enders’s fellow chief executive Noël Forgeard’s decision to sell a batch of shares in the company earlier this year – a move which has been scrutinised in the wake of the subsequent revelations about problems with the Airbus A380 programme.

The German financial regulator BaFin is investigating the recent share price activity, as is its French counterpart, the AMF. Both watchdogs are also looking at the decision by French publishing and aerospace group Lagardère and US-German automotive giant DaimlerChrysler to both sell 7.5% of shares in April, ahead of the profits warning  issued last week.

“Of course it would have been lucrative to exercise the options in the middle of March, in view of the high share price,” Enders is widely quoted as saying. “I did not, however, consider it to be opportune to do so.”

Along with Forgeard, who is estimated to have profited around €2.5 million from the rise is share value in the share option period, five other EADS executive committee and board members exercised stock options between 8-28 March. These executives included the president and chief executive of Eurocopter Fabrice Brégier.

Also named by EADS are: EADS head of marketing and strategy Jean-Paul Gut; François Auque, head of the space division; Jussi Itavuori, head of human resources; and Stefan Zoller, head of the defence division. Each is estimated to have made around €3.2 million through sale of stock.

Neither Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert nor EADS’s chief operating officer for finance, Hans Peter Ring, are listed as having sold any shares.