Why hunting for the boss of Air France, is so complicated

We start again from zero ? “When we grill several bulbs, it is necessary to know how to change the lamp,” said, recently, a former boss of Air France-KLM. It may be that the members of the board of directors of the air group will have to resolve to do after having spent two CEOS in three years and caught the foot in the carpet in wanting to appoint too quickly for a successor to Jean-Marc Janaillac, party on may 15. Even if the press release published by the management of the group in the early afternoon after a two-day seminar in Amsterdam remains very evasive on the question – “the recruiting process for the future governance continues, in accordance with the objective initially set by the Board to be finalized in the shortest possible time,” the directors seem committed to changing the governance of the group by separating the function of CEO of Air France-KLM and CEO, Air France. So he must recruit two bosses and not a single one as firms chase had the mission. Not a thin case.

The excitement aroused by the revelation of the candidate pushed by the nomination committee of the group, Philippe Capron, current deputy general manager of Veolia, and by the “niet” dropped by the minister of economy, Bruno Lemaire proves to what point the case is complex. The historical presence of the State in the capital -even down to 14.3%- complicating the equations. Because the presence of the public authorities remain very strong in the council : in front of the four representatives of the employees, the majority of the fourteen other directors come from the public sphere, énarques, ex-senior officials, or even former ministers. “The idea would be to look for a profile which is more operational to direct the company and a higher profile internationally, able to discuss with the American partners and Chinese, to manage the strategic choices currently on the table for the creation of a low-cost airline long-haul at the group level, for example, explains a close to the folder. A profile is also compatible with the Dutch who are furious to have been ruled out of the nomination process and want a rebalancing of powers.”

A former Société Générale

The tensions between KLM and Air France are not new. But the pressure is more and more strong in Amsterdam that KLM carries more weight in the alliance. Even if it has a turnover lower, the Dutch company earns four times more money than that of its sister habs !

Hunting is, therefore, left with the list of potential candidates. But there is a plethora of names likely to take the controls of Air France-Lionel Guerin, former CEO of Hop !, Nathalie Stubler, the patron saint of Transavia, Pascal de Izaguirre, president of TUI France, but also Bruno Matheu, former general director of Air France before leaving for Etihad in 2015 to 2017 and Marc Rochet, former chairman of Air Caraïbes – one to find, to take the lead of the group might be more difficult.

Names most unexpected, outside the transport sector, are also cited, such as Régis Schultz, president of Monoprix –he denies having been approached by the law firm of hunt Aegon Zehlder – or Bernado Sanchez Incera, a former Carrefour and Société Générale, Pierre-François Riolacci, the former chief financial officer of Air France-KLM who joined in 2016, the Danish group ISS Facility Services, specialist services for businesses.

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