French Industry Veteran Louis Gallois Takes Over At EADS

Company hopes new leader will pull it out of crisis mode.

Louis Gallois, who became the sole chief executive of the European aerospace group EADS on July 16, is a veteran of France's heavy industry who spent 10 years at the helm of the state-run SNCF rail company. Gallois, 63, replaced Noel Forgeard as co-chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company in July 2006 and took over the Airbus subsidiary as well three months later. His appointment at EADS marks the latest attempt to pull the European aviation giant out of crisis following repeated delays in the Airbus A380 superjumbo program that have been blamed on poor management.

As head of Airbus, Gallois was given the task of implementing a restructuring plan -- dubbed Power8 -- that will scrap 10,000 jobs over the next four years in a bid to slash costs and restore the company to financial health. The plan was concocted by his predecessor Christian Streiff who left the company in a huff, complaining that he was not given enough leeway.

Over the past nine months, Gallois has managed to navigate the turbulent waters of the Power8 plan, holding negotiations with unions and averting predicted massive labour unrest.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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