PARIS (Reuters) - Europe’s EADS EAD.PA on Thursday named Airbus sales head John Leahy to its executive committee, which sets strategy for the European commercial and military aviation group.
Leahy, 62, who helped propel the planemaker from European upstart to number one in commercial sales and deliveries, has become Boeing Co’s (BA.N) most visible adversary since taking over the sales in 1994.
He was one of a handful of new appointees to a reshuffled executive board put in place by recently installed EADS Chief Executive Tom Enders, who previously served as CEO of Airbus.
Others included Airbus Chief Operating Officer Butschek, 51, and the new head of the EADS defense division Cassidian, 59-year-old Bernhard Gerwert. Both moves had been expected.
EADS said on Monday Gerwert had replaced Stefan Zoller as the head of Cassidian, the second-largest division in EADS by revenues. Enders and Zoller were not seen as close.
Industry analysts said the new composition of the executive committee reflected Enders’ desire to provide better balance towards Airbus, which dominates the group’s annual revenues of 50 billion euros.
But the reshaped executive committee is expected to take a broader role under Enders, concentrating on issues ranging across the divisions rather than focusing closely on operations.
Sources familiar with the matter said a smaller group of five committee members was expected to focus on major decisions.
Besides Enders, they include strategy chief Marwan Lahoud, personnel chief Thierry Baril, finance director Harald Wilhelm and Airbus chief Fabrice Bregier, the only divisional chief to join the inner cabinet around the recently appointed CEO.
Management appointments are a sensitive issue at EADS, which is jointly controlled by French and German interests and closely watched by politicians on both sides of the Rhine.
Leahy, an energetic New Yorker with little time for European politics, has criticized in-fighting between French and German camps that peaked during delays to the A380 superjumbo in 2006.
The shake-up comes as Enders prepares to place his stamp on EADS with a strategy review expected to be completed in October.
Until then, his first two months in the job have focused on sensitive organizational matters such as placing the effective headquarters in Toulouse, France, alongside Airbus, or merging the human resources and finance teams of EADS and Airbus.
EADS was created in 2000 from a merger of French, German and Spanish interests. It was Europe’s response to the emergence of large U.S. defense groups during consolidation after the Cold War, but was beset for years by internal tensions.
The decision to base decision-making in Toulouse where most business is generated, rather than both Paris and Munich where EADS formally has its headquarters, caused a row with Germany that EADS hopes will be forgotten at next week’s Berlin Airshow.
Enders has said EADS must behave like a global company to compete on international markets.
Reporting By Christian Plumb and Tim Hepher; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford and Leslie Gevirtz