Airbus boss to succeed Camus as EADS co-chief executive

Eurocopter chief executive Fabrice Bregier has emerged as a leading candidate for the top job at Airbus following last week's confirmation that incumbent NoŠl Forgeard has succeeded in his controversial bid to replace Philippe Camus as co-chief executiveat parent EADS.

Bregier, a proteg‚ of French aerospace legend, the late Jean-Luc LagardŠre, and former boss of missiles house MBDA, could face competition for the post from French Airbus executives such as Patrick Gavin and Charles Champion, say industry sources.

EADS declines to comment on candidates to replace Forgeard.

EADS30%-shareholder DaimlerChrysler has, meanwhile, formally nominated Defence & Security Systems head Tom Enders to replace Rainer Hertrich as German co-chief executive. Forgeard now reports to Hertrich, and the new French Airbus chief executive will report to Enders.

The company will hope official confirmation of the co-chief executivenominees - due to take over in July - will enable it to end a period of infighting between the French and German camps over the EADS succession strategy. The dispute had threatened to undermine the company's attempts to reinvent itself as a unified global business.

Apparent attempts by the French government to engineer a takeover of Thales by EADS and install Forgeard as sole chief executiveof the combined entity appear to have been headed off, which EADS officials privately argue is an illustration of the robustness of the company's corporate governance structure.

Forgeard worked in LagardŠre's defence business before taking over as head of Airbus, in which EADS owns an 80% stake. The rest of the Toulouse-headquartered company is controlled by BAE Systems.

Patrick Gavin - former head of 50% EADS-owned joint venture ATR - is executive vice-president customer services at Airbus, while Charles Champion is executive vice-president A380 programme. G‚rard Blanc, executive vice-president programmes, is no longer in the running, say industry sources.

Source: Flight International