(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE pulled a book commissioned for its 50th anniversary from circulation after senior managers raised concerns about a chapter that covered ongoing bribery and corruption investigations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Written by ex-New York Times journalist Nicola Clark, the book covers Airbus’s formation and emergence as a competitor to Boeing Co. It includes a chapter on allegations surrounding the use of intermediaries in securing orders that are still under investigation.
Concerns arose that the book’s contents could impact Airbus’s ability to secure a legal settlement in the French and British probes, according to Reuters, which reported the decision earlier. The book was published on Amazon’s Kindle platform on May 29, and taken down before the Paris air show in mid-June, when printed copies were scheduled to be released.
New management under Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury had expected to have an opportunity to sign off on the book before it was published, according to one of the people. They were concerned, in part, that publication of a text authorized by the company would contravene restrictions on its communication about the bribery case, the person said.
“Following a review of the draft of ‘Airbus: The First 50 Years,’ a decision was taken not to publish the book,” Airbus said in a statement. The book and the investigation are separate, a spokesman said. “The publication of the draft on Amazon or any other platform at the time were not authorized by Airbus.”
Airbus has been pursuing a so-called a deferred prosecution agreement after replacing much of its senior management and putting in place new compliance measures. A settlement would allow the aerospace and defense giant to avoid a guilty verdict that might otherwise bar it from bidding for public contracts.
Warts and All
The book had already been through a print run before being retracted, people familiar with the matter said. Clark had submitted a first draft in early January that went through various iterations reviewed by senior Airbus executives working under former CEO Tom Enders, who made way for Faury in April.
Before pulling the book, Airbus was praised for allowing publication of a warts-and-all history. Aviation website Leeham News wrote in a July 8 review that Airbus had done “a fine job” in letting Clark include coverage of “the two big scandals” concerning the corruption claims and historical allegations of insider trading relating to disclosures about the now-canceled A380 superjumbo.
“I’m deeply disappointed by the very belated decision by Airbus,” Clark, who spent two years on the project, said in a statement. “I remain intensely proud of the text that I produced, which has been very well received.”
Urbane Publications, the publisher, said it was also “very disappointed that Airbus has chosen to withdraw the book.”
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