EADS Approves New Leadership, Humbert Named Airbus Chief

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) Saturday resolved months of wrangling between shareholders and named the group's new leaders, giving a German the nod for the first time to oversee Airbus. As expected, the group's directors named as EADS co-chief executives the German-French team of Thomas Enders and Noel Forgeard.

Gustav Humbert, the current number two at Airbus, was tapped to take over from Forgeard as chief executive of the Toulouse-based aircraft maker, which is 80% held by EADS and is the group's main activity. Forgeard, however, will get to keep an eye on his old job as he will oversee the Airbus shareholders' committee.

The EADS board had delayed naming its new leadership as French and German shareholders, each holding a 30% stake in the group, battled over who should next lead Airbus.

Once considered a model for industrial cooperation in Europe, EADS has been under pressure to resolve the leadership dispute as the group is locked in a head-on competitive battle with U.S. rival Boeing. The next chief of Airbus must bring about the success of the A380, the world's biggest airliner, as well as launch the production of the long-haul A350, which is designed to compete with Boeing's Dreamliner 787.

The European aeronautics group, which employs 110,000 people worldwide, reported revenue of 31.8 billion euros (US$38.5 billion) last year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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