Former EADS co-CEO Noël Forgeard reiterates defence after resignation

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Former EADS co-chief executive Noël Forgeard insists he stepped down solely in the interests of the company, maintaining that he had no responsibility or forewarning about the operational difficulties at Airbus.

Speaking to French business daily Les Echos, Forgeard said personal friction that appeared at the head of the group made his situation untenable.

“I am too attached to this company to accept that I, personally, became an obstacle to its good management. I am leaving so that the company can re-establish the calm that it needs to exit this crisis.”

KEY EVENTS IN AIRBUS A380 DELAY
Date
Event
Mid-1990s Airbus begins serious ultra-large airliner studies under project name A3XX
January 1998 Noël Forgeard succeeds Jean Pierson as chief executive of Airbus Industrie
1999/2000 Forgeard garners customer support for A3XX in preparation for launch
July 2000 EADS created by the merger of Aérospatiale-Matra of France, Construcciones Aeronáuticas (CASA) of Spain, and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) of Germany.
December 2000 A3XX launched as A380 with Charles Champion named as programme chief
July 2001 "Airbus SAS" created as integrated company with EADS (80%) and BAE Systems (20%) as shareholders
December 2004 Airbus unveils new long-range twinjet, the A350
January 2005 A380 unveiled at glitzy ceremony in Toulouse attended by heads of state of partner nations
27 April 2005 A380 completes maiden flight from Toulouse
June 2005 Airbus informs A380 customers of a six month programme slip, pushing first deliveries from Q2 to Q4 2006
25 June 2005 Forgeard named co-chief executive of EADS, with Airbus chief operating officer Gustav Humbert appointed to succeed him at head of Airbus. Champion takes over as COO, but retains A380 programme chief role
October 2005 A350 receives industrial go-ahead from Airbus shareholders
April 2006 BAE Systems reveals plans to sell Airbus stake to EADS
May 2006 It emerges that Airbus is rethinking the A350 to improve its competitiveness and could relaunch programme with major revisions to design
June 2006 Airbus announces another A380 delay, pushing programme back by "6-7 months" but delivery of first aircraft remains on track for late 2006. News of delay sees in EADS shareprice tumbling and pressure grows for Forgeard resignation amid revelations that he and his family sold EADS stock earlier this year
2 July 2006 Forgeard and Humbert resign

Forgeard, who in the last week has steadfastly refused to quit, maintains his innocence over allegations that he exercised his share options with the benefit of privileged information.  But, after resigning yesterday, he says the interests of the company have overtaken his personal interests.

“But I forcefully repeat: firstly, I am not responsible for the production delays affecting the A380. I don’t have operational control over Airbus anymore,” he tells the paper, noting for the last year he has been a non-executive president.

Secondly he says he exercised his stock options in “complete legality, in complete transparency and in all good faith”.

The former co-president says he is relaxed over the investigation of French stock market regulator AMF. He adds that he has “no intention of staying at home and doing nothing” and will move on after a very quick period of reflection.

He adds he will give his support to his replacement Louis Gallois and to new Airbus CEO Christian Streiff.

Blog:
Read Kieran Daly's view on recent events at EADS and why it means power shifting from France to Germany