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Ex-Thales Leader Ranque Could Become EADS Chair

Feb. 10, 2013 - 12:15PM   |  
By PIERRE TRAN   |   Comments
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Paris — A reshuffle of the EADS board of directors brings defense industry and U.S. experience to the top level, with a possible chairman’s post for Denis Ranque, while Thales seeks a more global business model with new responsibilities for its executive committee, analysts and industry executives said.

Ranque, a former executive chairman of defense company Thales, was among 12 names EADS announced Feb. 5 as nominations to a future board. The nominations will be put to an extraordinary shareholders meeting due at the end of March, and once confirmed, the board will then elect a chair, a company spokesman said.

Under new governance rules agreed to between France and Germany, the French state will no longer hold a seat on the board, which EADS insists will be independent. Ranque is favored for the chair by EADS managers, who are looking for someone with specialist experience, an industry executive said.

“Ranque is an emanation of the management,” the executive said. “They went looking for him; he did not come to them.

“This is extraordinary revenge for Ranque,” the executive said. Ranque was forced out of Thales in 2009 after 12 years in the top job when Dassault Aviation took a 26 percent industrial shareholder’s stake.

Besides Ranque, another name on the nominations list is Ralph Crosby, a former head of EADS North America and a senior executive at Northrop Grumman.

Apart from EADS Chief Executive Tom Enders’ determination to mark independence from interference from Berlin and Paris, the nominations point to a significant industry approach.

“These are two very experienced senior executives in aerospace and defense,” said Christina Balis, head of European operations at consultancy Avascent.

Crosby knows the U.S., which is still the world’s biggest military market, Balis said. For EADS to be a truly global company, the firm needs to boost U.S. sales, she said.

For Thales, the new executive chairman, Jean-Bernard Levy, appointed in December as successor to Luc Vigneron, has made changes to the executive committee in adopting a more global approach. Levy appointed Patrice Caine on Feb. 4 as senior executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief performance officer and announced on Feb. 8 new responsibilities for the executive committee.

“Levy’s aim is to rebalance responsibilities between countries and divisions to reflect the view [that] the product lines are aimed at global markets,” a company spokesman said.

The changes also take into account different levels of “maturity” among the country markets. Thales runs sales offices in some countries, industrial activities in others.

Germany is assigned to Hervé Multon; Australia/New Zealand to Alex Cresswell; Canada to Jean-Pierre Forestier; the U.S. to Marc Darmon; the Netherlands to Pierre Eric Pommellet; and the U.K. to Lévy.

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