Gallois and Streiff join troubled EADS as Forgeard and Humbert quit

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Franco-German aerospace giant EADS has announced the resignations of co-chief executive (CEO) Noël Forgeard and Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert who finally succumbed to the storm that has engulfed the company since the revelation of further delays to the A380 programme in mid-June.

Growing investor pressure in the last few days, especially from key shareholders Lagardère and DaimlerChrysler, appears to have made their departure unavoidable.

louis gallois

Forgeard will be replaced by French railway chief Louis Gallois (pictured left), 62 – a former head of Snecma and Aérospatiale – but EADS’s German co-CEO Tom Enders, 47, remains in place.

christian streiff

Humbert is being replaced by Christian Streiff (right), 51, previously chief operating officer (COO) of French industrial group Saint-Gobain.

Under a revised structure Streiff will report to Enders. COO for marketing, strategy and global development Jean-Paul Gut, chairman and CEO of EADS North America Ralph Crosby, and head of military transport aircraft division Francisco Fernández Sáinz will also report to Enders.

The executives reporting to Gallois will be: chief financial officier Hans-Peter Ring, head of Space Division François Auque, head of Eurocopter Fabrice Brégier, and head of Defence and Security Systems Stefan Zoller.

Chief technical officer Jean Botti and head of human resources Jussi Itävuori will report to both men.

In response to widespread shareholder calls for closer control of Airbus, EADS says: “In addition, the board resolved to closely integrate the Airbus Division into the organisational structure of EADS after finalisation of the acquisition of BAE Systems’s 20% stake in Airbus.”

Gallois is a well-known aerospace figure who headed Snecma from 1989-1992 before becoming CEO of France’s then-premier company in the industry - Aerospatiale - until 1996. His role in the high-profile role as CEO of French railway operator SNCF reflects his status as one of France’s commercial élite.

Streiff has no direct aerospace experience but managed several of Saint-Gobain’s diversified businesses in France, Germany, Italy and the USA. He became COO in 2004 but left just a year later in May 2005.

Forgeard, who was also battling questions over his sale of EADS stock earlier this year, made clear in the last few days his determination not to be forced out, and there has been no word from him today.

But in a statement released separately by Airbus, Humbert says: “The recently announced delay on the A380 production and delivery programme has been a major disappointment for our customers, our shareholders and our employees. As president and CEO of Airbus, I must take responsibility for this setback and feel the right course of action is to offer my resignation to our shareholders.

“Airbus has been through many years of great success to which I am proud to have contributed. Now the time has come to give way to a new management team able to restore the company’s image quickly and to lead Airbus into the future. A new leadership can only be formed with a new chairman and a new president and CEO. The new management must then be empowered to drive forward those issues which we have started to address over the last twelve months: Airbus’s renewed customer focus, its product and internationalisation strategy and the urgent need for change in key industrial processes.

“I would like to thank everyone with whom I have had the pleasure of working during more than 25 years at Airbus, in particular my colleagues in the executive committee. I know it will in time be recognised that the current delay on the A380 programme is purely a temporary industrial issue. It will have no effect on the performance and market recognition of this wonderful aircraft. Nor does the delay change Airbus’s extraordinary overall growth prospects.

“Airbus’s industry leadership, capabilities and values remain strong foundations to build for the future. The company, its products, both present and future, and above all its talented and committed employees, have an excellent outlook ahead, and I will watch their progress with great pride.”

Kieran Daly thinks power has shifted to Germany in EADS. Read his blog.