PARIS, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The former head of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, was nominated to the board of EADS on Thursday as the Franco-German-led group approved a long-awaited reshuffle that will see Airbus chief Tom Enders become chief executive.
The arrival of one of Europe’s key architects, credited with building an armour of credibility around the region’s single currency, underscores how EADS remains a key industrial pillar of the French-German relationship at the heart of Europe.
But it could lead to a clash of perspectives after EADS leaders openly challenged the euro’s strength in recent years and urged monetary authorities to pay more heed to exporters. Airbus benefits from a strong dollar in which it sells jets.
EADS has been roiled in the past by Franco-German tensions over a company that employs 100,000 people and combines politically sensitive defence and industrial interests, but has gone through a calmer period under outgoing CEO Louis Gallois.
It was set up in 2000 through a merger of French, German and Spanish interests arching across the public and private sectors and its top appointments remain politically sensitive.
Enders, 53, will replace veteran French CEO Louis Gallois who turned 68 on Thursday and who will step down when his job expires at the end of May, EADS said after a board meeting.
Arnaud Lagardere, head of French media group Lagaradere, will become chairman and Airbus number two Fabrice Bregier will become boss of the world’s largest civil planemaker.
The appointments follow a pattern set out in a deal between French and German leaders in 2007 after Airbus production delays caused a rift between the euro zone’s largest economies.
The moves were delayed a month following a last-minute bid by French representatives to grab two further posts including that of the finance director, people close to the matter said.
That job will instead go to Enders’ top finance aide, fellow German Harald Wilhelm, who will also retain his role as finance director of Airbus.
EADS finance director Hans Peter Ring has decided to retire and remain an adviser until the end of 2012.
The company had postponed a decision on succession in December amid the last-minute manoeuvres.
Lagardere owns 7.5 percent, the French government owns 15 percent and Germany’s Daimler owns 22.5 percent.
The German government has agreed to buy 7.5 percent from Daimler in a move publicly opposed by Enders, who has called for reduced state involvement in Europe’s largest aerospace firm.