SAO PAULO, June 16 (Reuters) - Four senior executives are leaving Embraer SA, in addition to its commercial aviation chief, in the wake of a failed deal with Boeing Co and as a new chief executive reassess the jet maker’s path forward, three sources said.
The executives include Nelson Salgado, current Chief Operations Officer who previously worked as Chief Financial Officer and has worked at Embraer for more than 30 years.
Also out is Antonio Campello, who headed the company’s innovation arm known as EmbraerX, whose best-known project is a vertical take-off and landing vehicle being developed in cooperation with Uber.
The aircraft project is personally supported by Embraer’s CEO Francisco Gomes Neto, who considers it a high-risk, high-reward project.
Embraer named Gomes Neto, an outsider, as CEO last year, when it seemed like a done deal that the planemaker would sell its commercial aviation unit to Boeing for $4.2 billion and refocus its business on smaller executive jets and defense.
Instead, Gomes Neto had to scramble to find a plan B for the company when the Boeing deal collapsed in April. Two sources said the departures were part of Gomes Neto’s effort to chart a future without Boeing.
Gomes Neto has also cut down capital spending to minimum levels due to the coronavirus crisis.
Embraer said on Monday that John Slattery, who was one of the company’s most visible faces and headed the commercial aviation unit, was leaving the company for a bigger job to head engine-maker GE Aviation.
Slattery had championed the Boeing-Embraer deal and was ready to become a senior Boeing executive as head of the Embraer partnership.
Two other executives who were supposed to join Boeing once the deal closed, Helio Bambini and Mauro Kern, respectively vice presidents for operations and engineering, are also now slated to leave Embraer, the three sources said.
Embraer confirmed in a statement that it was undertaking “organizational changes” including “consolidating” vice presidents in engineering and strategy and leadership shifts in operations and EmbraerX, without specifying names.
It said the personnel changes would be effective as of the end of June and that they would not affect an agreement for a $600-million loan partly backed by Brazil’s government that requires that the planemaker not reduce its workforce levels. The loan agreement was announced on Monday.
“I’m convinced that we have many opportunities to make Embraer a more agile organization, as well as more simple and competitive, making it more efficient in all areas,” Gomes Neto said in a statement. (Reporting by Allison Lampert, Marcelo Rochabrun and Rodrigo Viga Gaier Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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