Incoming Airbus CEO Weighs a Streamlined Power Structure
(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE’s incoming chief executive officer is considering a plan to combine separate executive boards for the company and its civil aircraft arm, accelerating the aerospace giant’s efforts to facilitate decision making, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Guillaume Faury also aims to eliminate the role of head of the planemaking unit, an idea he previously floated, by handing operational duties to incoming Chief Operating Officer Michael Schoellhorn, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. The overhaul would mark one of the first changes under Faury, who will formally take over from Tom Enders at the annual general meeting in April.
A consolidation would further reduce the layers of complexity and strained power dynamics that have been a core feature of the group since it was formed through a series of mergers of European aerospace and defense firms in 2000. Faury has commissioned a review led by the head of investors relations, Julie Kitcher. Any proposals from that review will have to be approved by the board.
An Airbus representative declined to comment on any corporate structural or management changes.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus currently operates four executive committees, including separate bodies for the helicopter and defense and space units. As of Feb. 1, the group body which advises the CEO on investments, strategy changes and policy, had 17 members, while the Airbus aircraft committee has 10. Nine are members of both. Under Enders, Fabrice Bregier occupied the role as head of the planemaking unit, typically a springboard for the top job, though the Frenchman left early last year.
“I really wanted to get the ideas from our executives on where to go, what we do well, what we want to change,” Faury said at the company’s full-year results this month, adding that while continuity will be maintained, “we can continue to simplify the organization.”
Enders’s efforts to restructure the organization into a single entity sit at the core of his two-decade legacy, including shedding the two headquarter-structure that had been designed to reflect Airbus’s Franco-German roots.
The company in 2016 formally announced that it would merge all of its units in an effort to cut costs and speed decision-making. It has also adopted Airbus as the name for the holding company, dropping the old European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. title it had held since its creation.
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