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EADS Finds Way Out of Crisis

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) on Saturday resolved months of wrangling between shareholders and named the group's new leaders, giving a German the nod for the first time to oversee Airbus.

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With internal matters settled, the focus is again on the A380

As expected, the group's directors named as EADS co-chief executives the German-French team of Thomas Enders and Noel Forgeard.

Gustav Humbert, the current number two at Airbus, was tapped to take over from Forgeard as chief executive of the Toulouse-based aircraft maker, which is 80 percent held by EADS and is the group's main activity, the company said in a statement.

Gustav Humbert

Gustav Humbert

Forgeard, however, will get to keep an eye on his old job as he will oversee the Airbus shareholders' committee.

The EADS board had delayed naming its new leadership as French and German shareholders, each holding a 30 percent stake in the group, battled over who should next lead Airbus.

"We are happy that after intense discussions, we can today name an excellent team and a new management structure for EADS," said Manfred Bischoff and Arnaud Lagardere, the group's interim co-CEOs, in a statement.

Once considered a model for industrial cooperation in Europe, EADS has been under pressure to resolve the leadership dispute as the group is locked in a head-on competitive battle with US rival Boeing.

Success of A380 critical

The next chief of Airbus must bring about the success of the A380, the world's biggest airliner, as well as launch the production of the long-haul A350, which is designed to compete with Boeing's Dreamliner 787.

Airbus A380 Probefahrt

French Economy Minister Thierry Breton commented in an interview Saturday with the newspaper Le Figaro that EADS' management choices were "the best and the most competent" for the positions.

"In all, the system has allowed for a good balance between the French and the Germans," he added.

The French state is a major shareholder in EADS along with media group Lagardere, French holding company Sogeade and German-American carmaker DaimlerChrysler.

The new co-leaders of EADS were elected to five-year terms, the statement said.

Other appointments included Stefan Zoller to head the group's defense and security systems, Francois Augue to lead EADS Space, and Fabrice Bregier the helicopter division Eurocopter.

The European aeronautics group, which employs 110,000 people worldwide, reported revenue of 31.8 billion euros ($38.5 billion) last year.

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