EADS's new sole chief executive Louis Gallois is backing a plan for the company to allocate "golden shares" to the French and German governments as it seeks to find a compromise between increasing its independence while allowing the nations to protect their "sovereign industry".

With golden shares the national interest could be preserved and the company will be protected without obliging the different governments to be shareholders of the company - it gives freedom to governments to change their shareholding in the company if they want."

The company hopes to move towards operating as a "normal" company by reducing the level of interference from national shareholders to "as low as possible", says new chairman Rudiger Grube, who describes the new set up as "a kind of dream team".

Gallois says EADS can now "overcome what I very often called a nationalistic poison. There is no longer a French chief executive and a German chief executive - there is an EADS chief executive." He adds that one of his first responsibilities will be to "reduce every day the national element in the management of the company".

The company has set up a working group to assess the possible options for its future shareholder structure. "Everybody is totally convinced and here we are working in one direction - that the day-to-day impact from the government should be like zero." A further step towards independence could come in 2010, Grube says. The German government will then have the right to purchase a 7.5% stake formerly owned by DaimlerChrysler and currently held by a German consortium, but "overall I do not believe this will take place", he says.

The working group, which Gallois hopes will report "as soon as possible", will also look at "how we can protect ourselves in the face of undesired shareholders", Grube says.

Source: Flight International