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Naval Group Australia appoints new chair, confirms board changes

The prime has formally announced Jean-Michel Billig’s replacement as chair, and has confirmed the appointment of two defence industry veterans to its board.

The prime has formally announced Jean-Michel Billig’s replacement as chair, and has confirmed the appointment of two defence industry veterans to its board.

Naval Group Australia has appointed the former managing director of Rio Tinto, David Peever, as its new chair, effective immediately.


Peever, who has been serving as a non-executive director, replaces Jean-Michel Billig, who relinquished his position as chair after resigning as executive vice president of Naval Group’s Future Submarines program.

The former Rio Tinto boss assumes the role amid controversy over the costs and timing of Naval Group’s $80 billion delivery of 12 Attack Class submarines to the ADF, which reportedly sparked Billig’s departure.  

However, Peever is expecting to oversee “significant growth” during his tenure.

“The company has already made significant progress in Australia, rapidly increasing its workforce to more than 250 staff and demonstrating a commitment to local jobs in a wider supply chain that will support sovereign submarine construction over the coming decades,” he said.

“There are also major milestones in the near future on submarine design, shipyard development and Australian industry content, and I look forward to leading the board in this nation-building endeavour.”


Former CASG, Thales executives join board

Naval Group Australia has also confirmed the appointment of Chris Jenkins, chief executive of Thales Australia and national president of the Australian Industry Group, to the board, along with Kim Gillis, former deputy security of the Capability, Acquisitions and Sustainment Group (CASG).

The pair replace independent board director Paul O’Sullivan and Naval Group’s Pascal Le Roy, who have stepped down after five years of service.  

Laurent Espinasse, who was appointed to replace Billig as EVP of the Future Submarines program, has also assumed a position on the board.

Naval Group CEO Pierre-Eric Pommellet welcomed the new appointees, adding that the Attack Class program was entering a new phase, marked by the announcement of the $900 million local manufacturing package.  

“These new appointments will add outstanding additional expertise to the strong foundation we have built, as an exciting new period in the Australian Attack Class submarine program begins,” Pommellet said.

“Kim Gillis and Chris Jenkins both bring extensive experience in the Australian defence industry sector.

“They will play important roles for Naval Group Australia board, as we work together in an increasingly strong partnership with the Commonwealth government and Australian defence industry on a program that will deliver 50 years of benefits.”

[Related: Naval Group confirms leadership reshuffle amid subs controversy]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

Naval Group Australia appoints new chair, confirms board changes
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