PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said he was closely following management changes at the top of Airbus (AIR.PA) and would ensure that the balance of national interests as well as the company’s interests are respected in the new appointments.
“For Airbus there are decisions on governance which are for the board to take. We are vigilant because we are shareholders, clients and (providers of) export support,” Macron said.
Speaking at a news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel after an EU summit on Friday, Macron added: “We will therefore take the best (people) while ensuring that the balance, as the Chancellor has said, of the different nations is respected and while also pursuing the interests of the company”.
Macron suggested he did not however want to undermine a 2013 accord limiting the role of French and German governments in Airbus, which he helped negotiate as a senior aide to then president Francois Hollande.
The pact marked a departure from previous rules handing France and Germany considerable control, while ensuring a rotation of French and German leaders at the top.
German-born Chief Executive Tom Enders has said nationalities no longer matter in the planemaking group.
“I don’t think the solution is to let the states come back to the board. We must look out for our strategic interests and seek exemplary governance, and I expect the board to provide necessary and indispensable clarification, and updates on the management and the ground rules, in coming weeks,” Macron said.
Asked what nationality the next CEO of Airbus would be, Merkel responded: “Airbus must make decisions about its own future. There are longstanding rules about this. But in any case, both countries will hold important positions. That I can say.”
Reporting by Noah Barkin, Luka Baker, Writing by Tim Hepher, Editing by Richard Lough