Last year, then-new EADS CEO Tom Enders suffered a bruising defeat when the German government derailed his plan to merge with BAE Systems in a deal that would have created the world’s leading aerospace and defense company.
Some critics called for his head.
Enders, however, has since only reinforced his reputation as a highly competitive strategic thinker, re-engineering the governance of EADS, successfully limiting government influence over the company’s day-to-day operations.
Last week, he announced a restructuring of the company’s operations to streamline units, increase competitiveness and boost profitability, giving its defense and space units four months to shape a growth plan. While EADS’ Airbus logs booming civil jet orders, its Cassidian defense arm has struggled.
In his quest to fashion a stronger brand, Enders announced EADS would change its name to Airbus Group, ditching the European Aeronautic, Defense and Space label created as a placeholder at a time when executives from companies that became the giant didn’t know what to call it.
Enders’ reforms come none too soon. European defense budgets are contracting, and France last week translated its white paper into hard numbers that include deep cuts to weapon programs.
But Enders has the company far better positioned today than it was a year ago as the industry sails into an uncertain defense future.