Why Airbus CEO Enders decided to take over Bombardier's CSeries and what he expects from Canada
The Enders game for Bombardier - Airbus CEO Tom Enders explains his company jumping at the chance to take over the C Series project – and what future role Canada could have
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PAUL WALDIE EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT MUNICH
Tom Enders fixes a piercing stare and leans forward to explain what finally made him decide to agree to take control of Bombardier Inc.'s flagging C Series program.
The chief executive officer of Airbus SE had spent weeks last summer watching teams from Bombardier and Airbus try to hammer out a partnership deal, using the code name Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon, to keep everything secret. But as the discussions dragged on, Mr. Enders knew something had to be done. So he arranged to meet Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare and a small group of senior executives at a law office in London during the last week of September. Over the next few days, and after a final face-to-face meeting in Munich, they reached an agreement that will see Airbus take majority control of the C Series and roll the $6-billion aircraft program into the French giant's global operation.
Two weeks later, the announcement sent shock waves through the aerospace world and left Canadian taxpayers wondering what they'd got for their $1-billion-plus investment in Bombardier. Why would Airbus take over an aircraft program the company's chief salesman mocked as doomed and that Mr. Enders once dismissed as too risky? For Mr. Enders the answer was simple: gut instinct.
"Always in life, human interaction is so important," he said in an interview at Airbus's offices in Munich this week. "It can convince you to make the last step and say, okay, now I'm really convinced. It can also work the other way around. And you say somehow my gut feeling says I don't trust these people."
With Mr. Bellemare, there was immediate trust and "no bullshitting, no trying to manoeuvre around each other."