Airbus calls in the movers as power shifts to new headquarters

Wed Feb 1, 2017 1:18pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - After top-level restructuring at Airbus come the musical chairs and a new logo intended to convey unity as the European giant aims to refocus its management without a return to past infighting.

In a symbolic move, the man in charge of making Airbus jets has reluctantly agreed to leave his office by the vast factories in Toulouse and move to a new corporate headquarters in the same southern French city, people familiar with the matter said.

At first sight, it might seem an obvious move following the restructuring in which the planemaking division became the mainstay of the overall structure of a company that also manufactures space rockets, helicopters and military jets.

But close watchers of the predominantly Franco-German firm, still bruised by decades of infighting, fear the decision to put planemaking chief Fabrice Bregier in the new HQ alongside his boss Tom Enders could test a fragile internal power balance.

For Bregier, it may only be a move of about a kilometer on the ground, but it shifts him ever so slightly away from the company's economic nerve center that drives its share price, revenue and profits. And it comes at a critical time for the world's second largest planemaker as it strives to boost output.

"(Bregier) isn't happy, but he is going to make it work," said one person close to the company, who asked not to be named.

Airbus agreed last year to merge its jetliner division with its parent group to reflect the stronger bias toward civil manufacturing that started in 2013, after the failure of a planned merger with British defense firm BAE Systems (BAES.L: Quote).

After the latest internal restructuring, Bregier gave up his title as chief executive of the Airbus commercial airliner business, but remained its president while also becoming chief operating officer and number two for the group as a whole.   Continued...

The logo of Airbus is pictured on a scale model during the annual Airbus Commercial Press Briefing in Blagnac, Southwestern France, January 11, 2017.   REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo