Julian Moxon/PARIS

YVES MICHOT has been appointed to replace Louis Gallois as president of France's Aerospatiale. The move has been welcomed by observers of the French aerospace industry, as the state-owned giant prepares for further integration with the European aerospace industry.

Michot joined Aerospatiale in 1984 as vice-president for military programmes, and became chief executive and corporate executive vice-president in 1987. He faces several major challenges, primarily the completion of negotiations on a merger with Dassault by the end of the year.

Michot is already familiar with the fighter-aircraft manufacturer, having managed the Dassault Mirage 2000 programme for the defence ministry in the 1980s.

He will continue to prepare Aerospatiale for privatisation, a task begun by Gallois before he left to head ailing French state-owned railway operator SNCF. Gallois reduced the size of Aerospatiale by 15% in the past four years and its debt by almost Fr10 billion ($2 billion), to Fr6.5 billion.

Michot says that he is "optimistic" that the merger with Dassault will be completed before the end of the year.

Although, initially, the resulting company would be state-owned, he says that it would be "-in the interests of both companies to examine jointly with the state the conditions under which the capital might be opened".

The company still suffers from a lack of cash for investment in new programmes, however, and uncertainty over important projects, such as the Future Large Aircraft and the Tiger and NH90 helicopters. While the civil-aircraft, space and satellite businesses are in good shape Michot will be looking for ways to improve the missiles and helicopter businesses both of, which are running at a loss.

Michot will also be heavily involved in the negotiations leading to the transformation of the Airbus Industrie consortium to a company.

There has been some speculation in France that Michot's appointment may only be temporary, lasting only as long as it takes to see the Dassault/Aerospatiale merger consummated.

Michot: welcome move

Source: Flight International