A return to centre-stage would give the financial wizard and amateur jazz drummer an opportunity to bury past power battles. EADS and Alcatel declined comment, and it remains unclear if Camus wants the job.
Other possible candidates could include Jean-Louis Beffa, honorary chairman of glassmaker Saint-Gobain, and the ex-head of nuclear reactor maker Areva, Anne Lauvergeon. Beffa told Reuters he had not been approached: “I can’t confirm or deny anything”. A source close to Lauvergeon said she was “not campaigning” for the job.
Until now, EADS was governed by a complex shareholder agreement that gave France and Germany veto power over strategic decisions, using large stakes owned by the French government, French media firm Lagardere and German carmaker Daimler.
Jobs were handed out under national quotas; future strategy and even the locations of factories and offices were political issues to be thrashed out by Paris and Berlin.
Under the new structure, Lagardere and Daimler are shedding most of their holdings. France and Germany own just 12 percent each, theoretically allowing Enders to run the firm without worrying about political meddling. Quotas for jobs are meant to be a thing of the past.
The deal was reached during marathon talks in the febrile days late last year after the BAE merger collapsed. According to sources present, the method of choosing board members was one of the most hotly debated issues, a central piece of the jigsaw puzzle that allowed the deal to take shape.
The need to find a new structure for EADS became urgent last October, as soon as Berlin vetoed Enders’s proposed $45 billion merger with Britain’s BAE Systems. Enders had hoped the biggest defence industry merger ever would dilute the French and German vetoes over his company, but that was now a dead letter.
EADS is registered in the Netherlands, and under Dutch law any alliance that controls more than 30 percent of a company must make a bid for it. That meant that if France and Germany wanted to keep control they might be forced to nationalise the company, an expensive proposition both wanted to avoid.