EADS sues over leak of Airbus partners' 'tensions'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2006, 12:00am


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Airbus parent EADS is suing 'unknown persons' for leaking an internal document that suggested tensions at the Franco-German company as it tries to resolve a crisis sparked by delays to the A380 superjumbo.

EADS yesterday said it had filed a legal complaint, which included a suit for damages, in Paris on Wednesday.

'The legal [grounds] of the complaint are theft, harbouring and unauthorised disclosure of strictly internal and confidential draft documentation which is company property,' the company said, adding it had also set up an internal investigation.

French newspaper Le Monde reported on Monday that French officials, including embattled co-chief executive Noel Forgeard had expressed doubts over EADS's targets on May 12, more than a month before a public announcement of delays to deliveries of the Airbus A380 superjumbo sliced 25 per cent off EADS' share value.

The report cited minutes of an EADS audit committee meeting.

On Tuesday, EADS had condemned the leak - which suggested a Franco-German split over how to handle signs of the A380 difficulties - as a deliberate attempt to play up reports of company divisions and said that the company was 'shocked'.

'This draft document appears to be used deliberately with the intention of pointing to alleged Franco-German tensions, which are not existing [sic], and which the draft document itself does not even evidence in any way, shape or form,' EADS said in its statement yesterday.

Le Monde said the document showed that Airbus had told EADS it would deliver 17 to 20 A380 planes at best next year, with a middle-case target of 13.

EADS co-chairman Manfred Bischoff said the panel had to decide whether the risks were great enough to be communicated to the markets immediately and concluded after the talks that the company's forecasts should not be changed at that stage, the quoted minutes said.

Mr Forgeard, under pressure following his decision to sell EADS stock in March just weeks before EADS said it knew of the A380 delays, has rejected suggestions of insider dealing and on Wednesday ruled out resigning.