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Airbus finance chief joins CEO Enders in departures lounge

Reuters  |  PARIS 

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) - chief will leave in 2019, the European planemaker announced on Monday, removing a leading contender to replace who is also set to depart next year.

"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 CFO," said Wilhelm, who joined the company in 2000.

The successors to both Enders and Wilhelm face challenges including declining orders and the possible loss of a 100 plane order from which is now in jeopardy due to plans by U.S. to reimpose sanctions on

The deal, worth approximately $18-20 billion at list prices, was agreed in December 2016. But only three planes have been delivered, with industry sources blaming delays on the wariness of banks to with

has said it expects to hear from about the fate of the deal in the coming days.

Airbus also faces a changing product mix, with slowing passenger jet sales prompting it to forecast a 17 percent drop in 2019 deliveries of its most successful wide-body jet, under intense competition from U.S. rival Boeing's 787 model.

Airbus shares fell 1.5 percent to 97.98 euros after last week touching a record high of 100.42 euros.

analysts said Wilhelm's departure was a blow, although they kept a "buy" rating on Airbus shares, while two fund managers said the fall in Airbus' shares reflected broader concerns over its in and a rise in the euro.

"It would have been more worrying had Wilhelm stepped down immediately, but he's leaving next year, so Airbus will have plenty of time to find a replacement," said Prime Partners' Jerome Schupp, who said he prefers shares to those of Airbus.

said Wilhelm's departure was less of an issue than Airbus' potential problems over its Iran contracts, as well as a strong euro which can impact European exporters.

Airbus said that a candidate for will be submitted to shareholders at the annual meeting in spring 2019 and Enders would help to secure a smooth transition.

board is keen to assert control over the appointments process, according to industry observers, 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 and to protect national interests. Now there are fewer restrictions.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Jason Neely)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 14 2018. 14:35 IST