Airbus rehires Merlin as EADS conflict is resolved

Tolouse: Airbus has rekindled its relationship with Merlin following the resolution of a politically sensitive management succession plan.

The European commercial jet company – producer of the world's biggest passenger plane, the A380 – dropped Merlin for Financial Dynamics in 2002 after a decade's tenure, but rehired the firm last week.

The move ends Airbus's 13-month search for a corporate and financial comms adviser, which began after it ditched FD at the beginning of last year (PRWeek, 21 January 2005).

It also reunites Merlin with its founding client. Merlin MD David Simonsen brought Airbus with him when he set up the company in 1994.

In 2002 Merlin won the account for EADS, which owns 80 per cent of Airbus. Airbus then dropped Merlin and appointed FD because of a potential conflict with Merlin's work for EADS.

Airbus vice-president of media relations Barbara Kracht told PRWeek that although EADS remains Merlin's client, these concerns were no longer an issue.

'There have been a number of changes since 2002 which have allowed us to rehire Merlin. It makes sense to benefit from the synergies of its relationships with both EADS and Airbus.'

One of the most recent changes at Airbus has been the appointment of chief operating officer and German Gustav Humbert to replace former CEO and Frenchman Noel Forgeard.

Forgeard's departure to become joint CEO of EADS last year set off a power struggle between EADS's French and German owners.
German carmaker DaimlerChrysler, the French government and media group Lagardere account for more than 60 per cent of EADS.

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