Airbus names Thomas Toepfer CFO after 6-month interim

Feb 15 (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) said on Wednesday it had appointed German executive Thomas Toepfer, 50, as its next chief financial officer from Sept. 1, when he will join from German polymer materials firm Covestro (1COV.DE).

The European planemaker said the finance chief of its defence and space division, French-born Xavier Tardy, would also assume the wider CFO role on an interim basis for six months from March 3, when Dominik Asam is due to step down.

The two-stage appointment follows a delayed search for a successor to Asam, who announced his surprise decision last year to leave Airbus to join German software company SAP (SAPG.DE) .

Asam will present the company's full-year earnings on Thursday when it is expected to outline production and delivery plans for the year amid supply chain and industrial problems.

The announcement in an Airbus statement on the eve of the results confirms a stop-gap approach first reported by Reuters last week, with the appointment of an interim CFO.

Although Airbus has moved on from years of national rivalries for top jobs, the passport of the finance chief has remained a sensitive issue as Chief Executive Guillaume Faury steadies his team under the watchful eye of founder nations.

A German has held the finance job since a politically sensitive merger of French, German and Spanish assets under the name EADS in 2000 created the modern version of the company. EADS was later absorbed by its Airbus unit.

Two people familiar with the process said there had been pressure to keep the position in the hands of Germany, which is already outnumbered by France on the 12-person executive committee, resulting in delays to the appointment.

Airbus declined comment.

The company's corporate rules mean the CEO and CFO and two thirds of the board and senior executive group must be European Union citizens - with a recent footnote clarifying that this also allows for a British citizen in the wake of Brexit.

In practice, industry sources say the company remains under pressure to preserve a broad balance between officials from France and Germany, the main founders, with a smaller presence from Spain and Britain completing its quartet of core nations.

Reporting by Dina Kartit, editing by John Stonestreet and Josie Kao

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