Luc Vigneron has replaced Denis Ranque as chairman and chief executive of Thales.

To take up his new role, Vigneron has quit the top job at Nexter, a state-owned land-defence systems manufacturer that evolved from Giat Industries. He has also resigned the chairmanship of French state holding company Sogepa, which indirectly holds a stake in EADS, a 46% shareholder in Dassault Aviation.

The arrival of Vigneron coincides with the completion of Dassault Aviation's acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent's 20.8% Thales stake - for €1.57 billion ($2.14 billion) - along with a 5.1% Thales stake held by its parent, Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault. With this transaction Dassault Aviation joins the French state as a core shareholder in Thales. Together, Dassault and the national government hold 53% of the capital and 61% of the voting rights.

Vigneron's appointment was proposed by the French government, as was that of Bruno Parent, who has become inspector general of finances. Dassault Aviation proposed four new board members: its own chairman and chief executive, Charles Edelstenne; executive vice-presidents Loik Sagalen and Eric Trappier; and Amaury de Sèze, chairman of retailer Carrefour.

There are three other new board members: Yannick d'Escatha, chairman of French space agency CNES; Stève Gentili, chairman of BRED Banque Populaire; and Pierre Mutz, former prefect of the Ile de France region.

Denis Ranque leaves his position after an 11-year stint. He was appointed chairman and chief executive of the Thomson-CSF Group, now Thales, in January 1998.

During the board meeting at which Ranque's mandate was ended, Ranque's severance package was discussed. A Thales statement notes that Ranque "has fulfilled the performance conditions" attaching to "payment of compensation for discontinuation of his term of office".

Source: Flight International