Since 1931, all French operational units of Compagnie des Machines Bull, Bull-General Electric, Honeywell-Bull, CII-HB and Groupe Bull have been reporting to a single corporate entity at Bull headquarters. During a period, some might have reported to a company legally incorporated in Netherlands, but even at that time, the operational channels went through the Paris area headquarters.
Between 1931 and 1983, those headquarters were located in the same location in Paris XXe Arrondissement at 92-94 avenue Gambetta. They were transferred in a smaller building of avenue de Malakoff, in the more fashionable XVIe Arrondissement, then moved within the skyscraper building of tour Bull established in La Défense suburbs and were transferred eventually in Louveciennes 1948 barrracks of ex-NATO SHAPE headquarters, allocated by the French government to CII.
The headquarters included:
Direction générale (Corporate management staff)
Direction juridique (Legal direction) including patents management (until the late 1990s where the Patent Department was more closely related to Engineering)
Direction Financière groupe (Group Finance direction). In the 1980s, a special direction called "Direction Développement" was dedicated to external acquisitions.
Direction du Personnel du Groupe (Group Human Resources direction)
Direction Stratégique (Strategy direction), sometimes very small, sometimes with a large staff.
Direction Communications (Public Relation staff)
During some periods when the operational people were scattered around the world, Headquarters were reinforced by a small staff in Engineering, Technology, Central Manufacturing.
During Compagnie des Machines Bull's era, it was
usual to say that headquarters higher positions were reserved to members of the Callies
family. When General Electric took over in 1964, it brought a certain number of American
managers to be able to understand what Bull was and to align the working methods with
those of GE. The majority of those managers were GE trained people, not necessarily
computer knowledgeable people. And progressively, French managers, with Jean Pierre Brulé
and Pierre Lepicard, took over as respectively CEO and CFO. With CII and Honeywell-Bull
merger in 1975, the headquarters team incorporated several ex-CII people, but, among them,
the most influent were technical people comfortable in an Americanized company. In the
1980s, the nationalization and the take-over of the whole French industry changed
considerably the headquarters staff as well as the strategy. Jacques Stern and Francis
Lorentz had to face the government imposed strategy of regrouping almost all the French
industry, while keeping their commitments to customers in Honeywell initiated product
lines. The Brulé's staff had to leave, several consultants (French and American) were
brought in and there were numerous changes in the management positions.
The take-over of Honeywell by Bull in 1985 lead to a big management turn-over in the US, American managers from the Boston area companies were hired, a few French managers were temporarily assigned to Billerica's new Honeywell-Bull headquarters.
In 1994, Jean-Marie Descarpentries brought a policy of austerity, even shutting down the PR direction (Direction Communications). Moving in only two "barracks" in Louveciennes, the Headquarters staff showed that the survival of the company justified strong cost cutting measures. After, Thierry Breton and Descarpentries' departure, officials from Lyonnaise des Eaux were elected at Bull's stern. Guy de Panafieu was named CEO of Bull and Cyrille du Peloux was general manager.
Guy de Panafieu, unable to gather new investors notably to acquire the remaining government share, decided the divestitures of non strategic assets and to split the core of the company into a service company Integris (directed by C du Peloux) and Bull Infrastructure ans Servers (headed by H Mouren). The headquarters staff is , for the largest part, being transferred to those companies.