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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Crisis talks over Airbus troubles
EADS co-chief executive Noel Forgeard
Mr Forgeard says problems with the A380 should be put in perspective
The management of embattled aerospace group EADS has met for the first time since the Airbus-owner announced a severe profit warning.

The firm's shares plunged 26% when it reported further delays in the delivery of its Airbus A380 superjumbo.

EADS also faces allegations of insider dealing, after co-chief Noel Forgeard sold shares in the firm in March.

Opposition politicians in France have called for Mr Forgeard's position at the head of the firm to be reviewed.

Executives present

Mr Forgeard insists he sold the shares before he knew of delays to the plane and did nothing wrong.

Internal divisions are causing difficulties for the Franco-German group with reports that changes in senior management could be imminent.

I sold the shares in a completely transparent manner
Noel Forgeard, EADS co-chief executive

The company confirmed a management meeting took place on Monday but downplayed its significance, saying it was not a formal board meeting.

According to unconfirmed industry sources, the firms four most senior figures - co-chairmen Arnaud Lagardere and Manfred Bishchoff, Mr Forgeard and fellow chief executive Tom Enders - were all present.

Mr Enders has acknowledged that the current situation constituted a crisis for EADS which had extended beyond Airbus.

Political pressure

The A380s has been delayed because of problems with its wiring and airlines are now calling for compensation over the six-month extra wait.

The delays are expected to reduce the firm's annual earnings by 500m euros ($630m; 340m) between 2007 and 2010.

But in an interview in French business newspaper La Tribune, Mr Forgeard said the problems "must be put in the proper perspective".

They did not "raise questions about the quality of the design of the airplane itself", he said.

The question I am asking is whether today Mr Forgeard can stay at the head of the EADS group
Francois Hollande, French Socialist leader

Mr Forgeard said he was "shocked" by the claims he had profited from insider knowledge when he, three of his children and two other executives sold shares before the A380 announcement was made.

"I sold the shares in a completely transparent manner," Mr Forgeard said.

"The only question is whether I had privileged information at that time. The answer is categorically no."

Pressure is growing on the French government - which owns 15% of EADS - to intervene in the situation.

"The question I am asking the prime minister is whether today Mr Forgeard can stay at the head of the EADS group?" Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party leader, said.


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