Airbus finance chief Harald Wilhelm will leave the European planemaker in 2019, adding to a management overhaul as the company contends with the challenge of halting declining orders in some key areas. Last month Airbus announced a 17 percent drop in planned 2019 deliveries of its most successful wide-body jet under intense competition from US rival Boeing.
Monday’s statement from Wilhelm, who had been seen by some as a possible replacement for outgoing CEO Tom Enders, said that next year would be the right time to leave after 18 years with the company’s finance department. “Until then, I remain committed to the performance of the company and I will work with the management to ensure a smooth transition to the next Airbus CFO,” he said.
Airbus shares fell 1.6 percent on the news, though it had been expected in some quarters, given the previously announced departure of Enders. The company has said that a candidate for chief executive will be submitted to shareholders at the annual meeting in spring 2019 and Enders will help to secure a smooth transition.
Industry observers say the Airbus board is keen to assert control of the appointments process after the company changed its rules in 2013 to reduce the influence of the French and German governments, which each own 11 percent of the company. During the first 12 years after a pan-European merger in 2000, top jobs had been divided up between France and Germany to protect national interests. Now there are fewer restrictions.