EADS confirms Ranque in line to be its new chairman

Airbus parent EADS confirmed on Wednesday it had proposed former Thales Chief Executive Denis Ranque as its next chairman under a new shareholder structure.

The appointment will be discussed by a new board following an extraordinary shareholder meeting scheduled for March 27 that will also vote on a planned share buyback, EADS said.

The European aerospace company announced the nomination of Ranque, 61, on its Twitter feed. He will replace Arnaud Lagardere whose French media group plans to sell its stake.

Ranque's nomination confirms plans reported by Reuters as the list of board members was unveiled last week, and follows a battle for the top post in Europe's largest aerospace firm.

The French government had backed Anne Lauvergeon, former head of reactor maker Areva, for the role but EADS insisted on picking one of the board's independent majority as the company seeks to curb political influence from France and Germany.

Lauvergeon will sit on the board as a representative of French interests. Besides Airbus civil jets, EADS makes Ariane space rockets, French nuclear weapons and German fighter planes.

(This version of the story corrects the shareholder meeting date as March 27, from May 27 as previously mentioned.)

(Reporting by Tim Hepher)