Divorced defense giants reunited in Reuters office

September 8, 2010

It might well have been the business divorce of the year, but it seems there are no hard feelings between the heads of defense contractors Northrop Grumman and jilted European partner EADS. AERO-ARMS-SUMMIT/

The companies had been bidding together to challenge Boeing for a deal worth up to $50 billion to supply aerial tankers to the Air Force. But Northrop pulled out in March leaving EADS, the Franco-German parent company of Airbus, to bid alone.

The two companies’ chief executives crossed paths in the Reuters Washington bureau as they took consecutive speaker spots at an annual Reuters symposium on the aerospace industry.

Frenchman Louis Gallois, the chief executive of EADS, put his arm around Northrop’s Wes Bush and said “Just married!”

It was a light moment of relief in one of the most bitterly fought defense procurement sagas of recent decades.

AERO-ARMS-SUMMIT/But Bush is not laughing his way back to the altar yet.

“I will tell you there is not a single moment since we made that decison that I have felt any regret,” Bush said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.

Photo credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang (Gallois and Bush at Reuters summit)

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