Will the departure of Sylvie Goulard have an impact on the replacement of the director of France’s DGA procurement agency? That is an unknown right now but it doesn’t change the fact that Laurent Collet-Billon is 67 years old, holds the record of longevity in this job (9 years), and that rumours of his departure are rife. Could his replacement come from the defence industry sector? And why not, for example, the current CEO of MBDA, Antoine Bouvier, who, currently at the head of Europe’s main missile manufacturer would be well placed to push for the European rationalisation called for by President Emmanuel Macron?
It has been exactly 10 years since this 58-year old senior civil servant and engineer has been CEO of MBDA (he was appointed on 11 June 2007). It is doubtless time for him to move. He previously spent five years at the helm of Astrium Satellites (now Airbus Defence and Space) and before that he was Executive Vice President of Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters). He thus needs a new challenge and now that the Italian group Leonardo has decided to keep its share of 25% in MBDA (Airbus and BAE Systems each hold 37.5%), Bouvier could go, leaving his successor with a stable company.
Although it would not be the first time that the head of the DGA is not an in-house promotion, it would be a first for a defence industrialist with no connection to the DGA. Jean-Yves Helmer (director from 1996-2001) came from the world of the automobile industry and even if François Lureau (2004-08) was CEO of a defence industry (Thales) before his appointment at the head of the DGA, he was also a DGA engineer, the first director of the Franco-German Tiger combat helicopter programme from 1975 to 1981.
Among other possible candidates for the job: Bruno Sainjon, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ONERA, is mentioned by some of our colleagues. But he has only been in his current job for three years. Previously, he was Director of Operations for the DGA, a post now occupied by Monique Legrand-Larroche, another person frequently mentioned as possible future head of the DGA!