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Dassault, Thales CEO Positions May Be Filled Soon

Dec. 14, 2012 - 12:18PM   |  
By PIERRE TRAN   |   Comments
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PARIS — The chief executive jobs at fighter jet maker Dassault Aviation and electronics company Thales could be decided in the coming week, published reports said.

Thales is due to hold a board meeting Dec. 20, postponed from Dec. 13, as key shareholders Dassault Aviation and the French government look for an internal candidate to succeed Executive Chairman Luc Vigneron, newsletter Lettre de l’Expansion reported.

Dassault, meanwhile, could announce Dec. 18 the successor to Charles Edelstenne, who is due to hit retirement age in January, business magazine Usine Nouvelle reported.

For Thales, among the proposals is a two-tier governance with Reynald Seznec, head of the communication and security division, as non-executive chairman, and Patrice Caine, from the radio communication business, as chief executive, Lettre de l’Expansion reported.

This is intended as a compromise because Dassault and the government have disagreed over who should get the executive chairman’s post, the newsletter said.

“If it is a ‘two-headed’ management with executive powers, it will be a dangerous and regrettable decision reflecting the government’s inability to decide,” said Loic Tribot La Spiere, chief executive of think tank Centre d’Etude et Prospective Stratégique. A company such as Thales needs a leader and if there are two chiefs, there could be a lack of clarity over who has management powers, Tribot La Spiere said.

Dassault and Thales declined comment.

The official reason for postponing the Thales board meeting by a week was to allow Dassault and the government to decide whether Vigneron should receive free company shares as part of a bonus package, a source briefed on the subject said.

An award of free shares is part of an employee share plan linked to performance, and while Dassault says ‘yes,’ the government opposes such a bonus for Vigneron, the source said.

For Dassault, contenders for the top job include Olivier and Laurent, sons of Serge Dassault, published reports said.

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