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UPDATE 1-Airbus to name new CEO at the end of the year

(Recasts, adds detail)

PARIS, March 20 (Reuters) - The board of Airbus will nominate a new chief executive at the end of the year, the European aerospace company said on Tuesday as it pledged to implement an independent selection process.

The announcement follows media speculation and political comments about the succession to German-born CEO Tom Enders.

Airbus said the choice of successor to Enders, whose mandate expires in 2019, would be led by an independent committee backed by external headhunters.

The new CEO's name will be submitted to shareholders at the annual meeting in spring 2019 and Enders will help to secure a smooth transition, it said in a statement.

Former Airbus No.2 Fabrice Bregier was until recently seen as heir apparent to long-time rival Enders, but in December the board agreed the staggered departure of both executives. Their feud had reached boiling point when Enders removed the commercial sales arm from Bregiers control last summer.

Bregier left in February and Enders announced he would not seek a new term, contradicting earlier signals indicating that he would stay.

The main internal candidate to replace him is Guillaume Faury, the former head of the helicopter unit, who stepped into Bregier's shoes as planemaking boss last month.

Le Figaro reported this month that Faury could combine the CEO role with day-to-day control of the planemaking arm.

Industry observers say the Airbus board is keen to assert control of the appointments process after the company changed its rules in 2013 to reduce the influence of the French and German governments, which each own 11 percent. (Reporting by Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer Editing by David Goodman)