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A380 Delays Spell CEOs' Demise (Jul 3)

The French co-chief executive of EADS, Noel Forgeard, and the German chief of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, Gustav Humbert, resigned on Sunday, the European aerospace company said in a statement.

The news came after weeks of pressure on Forgeard to quit following revelations that he sold millions of euros in EADS shares before the group announced delays to deliveries of the A380 superjumbo made by its Airbus unit.

Delays to the A380 also resulted in Humbert's departure, announced at the same time as that of Forgeard.

According to the statements, Forgeard will be replaced by the head of France's state rail company SNCF, Louis Gallois. Humbert is to be replaced by Christian Streiff, a former top executive for the French glass manufacturer Saint Gobain.

Tough-minded businessman

Forgeard, 59, had a reputation as a tough-minded businessman whose personal fortunes were closely tied to the European aerospace group. A former advisor to President Jacques Chirac, Forgeard had relied partly on the French leader's backing to wage -- and win -- a fierce leadership struggle at EADS that saw him named co-chief executive in 2005.

Before joining EADS, Forgeard spent seven years at the helm of the aircraft maker Airbus, where he was credited with regaining market leadership from the US manufacturer Boeing.

Described as charismatic and strong-willed, Forgeard's professional assurance and forceful managerial style has also led to charges of arrogance. "He is not somebody who gives up easily. He's extremely pugnacious, like a bulldog who won't let go," a former colleague said. "When Forgeard was at Airbus, his plan was simple -- to be the world's number one -- and he succeeded."

Tensions with German partners

His nomination at the head of EADS sparked tensions with the German partners in the company, with DaimlerChrysler suspecting him of seeking to undermine the group's joint French-German management structure.

The Germans accused him of trying to mount a coup when he questioned the two-headed leadership of the group and of trying, without success, to arrange a merger with Thales.

But the delays to the A380, the problems with the A350 which is having to be radically reviewed, and the timing of the sale of the stock options cast a long shadow over his performance.

Superjumbo's Delays Spell Bosses' Demise