Former Shell executive in line for Babcock chair

Former Shell EVP Ruth Cairnie is expected to become the first chair of UK defence contractor and helicopter operator Babcock international.

According to the Financial Times, Ruth Cairnie is the forerunner to become the first woman chair of Babcock International. It is expected that Cairnie will take over from Babcock’s current chairman Mike Turner in July – with the official announcement coming within the next 10 days.

A new chairman will be brought on to help bolster the company’s share price after a rocky 2018 in which the price  fell from 651.60p on 3 April 2018 to 493.50p on 29 March 2019. Mr Turner originally announced that he would step down as chairman in January.

Babcock’s share price was hit particularly hard last year after the group was targeted by an anonymous short seller in October. The anonymous person claimed that Babcock overpaid drastically for the acquisition of fellow helicopter operator Avincis in 2014 – leading Babcock to write down the value of Avincis’s assets.

The short seller — going by the name Boatman Capital Research — made a single blog post claiming that the group would be taking a £100 million impairment relating to the acquisition of Avincis and a further £100 million loss due to delays in a Warrior tank fleet-renewal programme.

However, Babcock’s impairment charge on its oil-and-gas helicopter business was lower than had been claimed – coming in at £80 million.

In December 2017, the company was ejected from the FTSE 100 over investor concerns.

The news of the new chair follows on Babcock appointing Simon Meakins as its new director of UK offshore helicopter operations. Simon took over from Roberty Dyas who moved to a new position with Babcock in Canada.

Cairnie currently serves as a non-executive director on the board of Rolls-Royce PLC.

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