EADS management discuss Airbus 'crisis'

24-08-2006

Directors of European aerospace manufacturer EADS met yesterday to discuss the company's response to the current crisis facing its subsidiary Airbus, according to industry sources.

News of the meeting, which brought together the group's four top executives, follows last week's warning from EADS that fresh delays in the delivery of the A380 superjumbo could cost the company €2 billion (£1.4 billion) over the next four years.

EADS, which owns 80 per cent of Airbus, saw 26 per cent slashed off its share price following the announcement.

The Franco-German company also faces allegations of insider dealing after its joint chief executive Noel Forgeard was criticised by shareholders for making a €2.3 million profit on the sale of EADS shares in March – shortly before he announced that the firm was aware that there were problems with the A380 programme.

Mr Foregeard insists that he sold the shares before he became aware of the delays, which EADS said had been caused by difficulties installing complicated wiring needed to support various systems in the giant planes that can hold up to 850 passengers.

But the French government, which owns 15 per cent of EADS, is under increasing pressure to use its powers under the company’s constitution to help decide the future of the group's co-chief executive after the country's socialist opposition leader Francois Hollande questioned whether Mr Forgeard should stay.

EADS acknowledged that a meeting had taken place between the company's management in Munich, but dismissed claims made by French industry minister Francois Loos, who said on television that a snap board meeting had been called by the group to discuss the fallout caused by the new six-month delay in the delivery of the A380.

Industry sources claim that the company's four most senior figures - co-chairmen Arnaud Lagardere and Manfred Bishchoff and co-chief executives
Mr Forgeard and Tom Enders – were present at the meeting.

But EADS downplayed the significance of the discussions, stressing that they did not constitute a formal board meeting.


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