When an ambitious deal proposal collapses, it is normal to ask whether management has failed, too. EADS-BAE Systems is no exception .
In their defence, a leak of the plan thrust them into a desperate race to establish the credibility of what would have been a confoundingly complex transaction, even with more time to polish it for public presentation. But they still misread the most important audience for their pitch.
A deeper concern is that what Mr Enders and Mr King called an opportunity might have been a bald necessity.
EADS's Mr Enders may have to rely on the protection of the very governments that killed off his master plan. Mr King looks even more vulnerable, although history suggests investors, however disgruntled, prefer not to ditch the chief executive after an abortive bid. Instead they focus, in due course, on replacing the more easily dispensable chairman – such as BAE's Dick Olver, the deal's chief U.K. lobbyist.
Compared with some drawn-out regulatory negotiations over deals, the EADS-BAE talks were at least short. But, in defeat, the two chief executives still have a major task convincing investors and staff that what they painted as a bold, can-do vision of a joint future was in fact merely a temporary diversion from two solid strategies, best pursued independently.