EADS is planning to bring an American on to its board for the first time, as the European aerospace and defence company seeks to bolster its credentials in the lucrative US market.

Ralph Crosby, a former executive at Northrop Grumman, is due to join the EADS board after a special shareholder meeting next month that will be asked to approve a new set of company directors and corporate governance structure.

Denis Ranque, a former chief executive of Thales, is expected to succeed Arnaud Lagardère as EADS chairman after the company’s nomination committee endorsed him for the position. EADS on Tuesday proposed a 12-member board for approval by the investor meeting next month, including Mr Ranque and Mr Crosby.

“The nominations are based on the balance of skills and range of experience of the nominees,” said EADS, parent of Airbus, the passenger jet manufacturer.

Mr Crosby is a former head of EADS’ North American business, and the company is seeking further inroads into the US market by building a factory in Alabama that will make Airbus passenger jets.

Tom Enders, EADS’ chief executive, is aiming to reduce the amount of political meddling at the company, which is currently controlled by the French and German governments through a special shareholder pact.

After the investor meeting next month, this pact is due to be dissolved. State ownership of EADS will increase under the changes, but the governments’ special rights should reduce.

Paris and Berlin are expected to end up with stakes of 12 per cent each in EADS, with Madrid holding a further 4 per cent.

On the new board, there will be four French people and four Germans. Two of these French people – Anne Lauvergeon and Jean-Claude Trichet – have been endorsed by Paris because they will also sit on an EADS subsidiary supervising sensitive military assets.

Two of the Germans – Manfred Bischoff and Hans-Peter Kietel – have been backed by Berlin, because they will also sit on another EADS subsidiary covering military assets.

The French government pressed for Ms Lauvergeon to become chairman of EADS, but the company’s nomination committee favours Mr Ranque because it wanted to secure a candidate with significant experience in the aerospace and defence industry.

Ms Lauvergeon is, however, due to be the first woman to serve on the EADS board.

Other proposed members of the EADS board include Sir John Parker, chairman of Anglo American; Lakshmi Mittal, chief executive of ArcelorMittal; and Josep Piqué i Camps, chairman of Vueling.

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