Airbus undergoes top management shake-up

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders will not seek a new mandate when his term expires in 2019, the French planemaker said. (Reuters)
Updated 15 December 2017
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Airbus undergoes top management shake-up

PARIS: Airbus confirmed a top management shake-up on Friday, following weeks of turmoil at the European planemaker.
Chief operating officer and planemaking chief Fabrice Bregier will step down in February 2018, while chief executive Tom Enders will not seek a new mandate when his term expires in 2019, the company said.
Guillaume Faury, currently chief executive of Airbus Helicopters, will succeed Bregier as president of the main commercial aircraft division, it said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.
The company said the board had acted to secure an orderly succession at the world’s second-largest planemaker, which has been beset by rivalries and abrupt changes in the past.
During 2018, the board will assess internal and external candidates for the CEO role with a view to announcing Enders’ successor in good time for confirmation at the 2019 annual shareholder meeting, the statement said.
Bregier, a 56-year-old Frenchman who has long been seen as the natural heir to Enders, has told the board he does not intend to be part of the selection process for the CEO position in 2019, and will therefore step down in February 2018 to “pursue other interests,” the statement said.
However, Bregier hinted at the long-running battle with Enders over status and responsibility, which many people in the company say, contributed to his unscheduled departure, listing the various titles he had held while running the planes unit.
Enders said he would work to ensure a smooth transition.


Ether cryptocurrency, a victim of blockchain success

Updated 36 min 6 sec ago
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Ether cryptocurrency, a victim of blockchain success

  • Ether has slid 20 percent in value, taking a further hit from comments made by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, which powers the cryptocurrency
  • Buterin has previously spoken about ‘scalability’ probably being the number one challenge facing the sector

LONDON: For all the attention afforded bitcoin, it is its rival ether that is hitting the headlines, with the popularity of its blockchain technology Ethereum driving concerns that have sent investors fleeing.
Virtual currencies have struggled across the board this month after US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs pulled back from its plans to open a trading desk for bitcoin, damaging sentiment for the entire sector.
Ether has slid 20 percent in value, taking a further hit from comments made by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, which powers the cryptocurrency.
Earlier this month, the 24-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer told Bloomberg that “the (Ethereum) blockchain space is getting to the point where there’s a ceiling in sight.”
A blockchain is essentially a ledger for recording transactions, which is both open to all who use it but extremely secure, and has enabled the rise of cryptocurrency trading.
A multimillionaire thanks to Ethereum, Buterin has previously spoken about “scalability” probably being the number one challenge facing the sector.
Unlike bitcoin’s blockchain, which carries out transactions involving only the cryptocurrency, Ethereum can host different virtual tokens and also enable certain digital applications and so-called smart contracts.
Such programs can for example automatically trigger payments without the use of a third party when pre-defined conditions are met, such as winning a sports bet.
Ethereum is also home to two-thirds of initial coin offerings (ICOs), essentially a fundraising tool for companies which issue the tokens against cryptocurrencies much like issuing shares on a stock market.
An explosion in the number of ICOs in 2017, two years after ether’s launch, resulted in the cryptocurrency’s price rocketing 160 times in value over a 12-month period.
The craze surrounding ICOs has also caused congestion to Ethereum’s network, contributing to ether’s price collapse beginning in January.
“The more it’s demanded, the more likely you are to clog the network,” said Jerome de Tychey, president of Asseth, an association promoting the use of Ethereum.
A clogged Ethereum results in higher charges for clients wanting their transactions prioritized — and average fees briefly hit a record $5.50 in July according to bitinfocharts.com. Generally, though, fees fluctuate around a few cents.
Delays to a planned overhaul of Ethereum’s scalability have meanwhile likely discouraged some investors from using the blockchain, according to de Tychey.
Naeem Aslam, an analyst at traders Think Markets, said Buterin “isn’t doing the job which he is supposed to do” — that is, to make companies “trust the technology and provide them (with) what they need.”
The plunge in the value of ether has indeed been dramatic. Since the start of August, it has lost more than half its value.
Going back to May, the drop is 75 percent, with the total value of the virtual currency tumbling to about $23 billion from $82.5 billion.
Yet the huge drop has only taken ether back to its value of a little over a year ago, at some $220 for one token.
Another factor weighing on ether’s price has been the success of ICOs. The companies which raised funding in ether with ICOs now need to sell to them to cover operating expenses in fiat currencies.
According to sector analysts Diar the companies that raised funding before the price boom at the end of last year have sold off some 20 percent of their ether holdings since April, weighing on its price.