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Airbus appoints ATR boss as sales chief after Schulz quits

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Airbus appoints ATR boss as sales chief after Schulz quits
A logo of Airbus is pictured at the entrance of the company's delivery center in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau   -   Copyright  REGIS DUVIGNAU(Reuters)
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus <AIR.PA> named its second new sales chief in less than a year on Thursday after chief commercial officer Eric Schulz resigned nine months after being poached from Rolls-Royce <RR.L> to lead the battle for jet sales against Boeing.

The European planemaker said Christian Scherer, head of turboprop maker ATR, an Airbus veteran who had been beaten to the job by Schulz in November last year, would take over the position immediately, reporting to Chief Executive Tom Enders.

Reuters earlier exclusively reported that Schulz was expected to resign. Airbus said his decision had been taken for personal reasons.

The switch comes as Airbus faces a slowdown in sales and delays and reliability problems with engines that have soured relations with several customers and left the Frenchman increasingly frustrated, the people said.

Schulz could not be reached for comment.

The former head of Rolls-Royce civil jet engines was picked for the high-profile post after Airbus bungled efforts to name an internal successor to John Leahy, the U.S.-born sales kingpin who eventually retired earlier this year.

Schulz’s appointment had been designed in part to bring in outside blood as Airbus endured turmoil over the impact of UK and French corruption investigations.

Some saw him as a potential candidate to replace Enders when he steps down next year.

But Schulz’s tenure was plagued by delays in delivering planes, a growing shortfall in orders compared to Boeing and a malaise in the Airbus marketing machine as a result of British and French probes, which have also sparked a blanket internal investigation.

Multiple sources had also reported a power battle between Schulz and Guillaume Faury, president of the planemaking division, who is the leading internal contender to replace Enders.

“I think (Schulz) understood which way the wind was blowing,” a person familiar with the matter said.

Another person close to the company acknowledged those tensions but denied they had triggered Schulz’s decision to leave.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Geert De Clercq)

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