BAE Systems Plc (BA/), Europe’s largest defense company, nominated former U.K. business-lobby executive Roger Carr as chairman to replace Dick Olver, who drew investor ire last year over the failed merger with EADS.
Carr, currently chairman of British Gas parent company Centrica Plc (CNA), will join BAE’s board on Oct. 1 and take over as chairman in the first quarter of next year, the London-based company said in a statement today. Olver’s term was set to expire in May. Carr, 66, stepped down earlier this month as head of the Confederation of Business Industry.
Olver, who joined BAE’s board as chairman in 2004 and helped see the company through allegations of illicit business dealings in Saudi Arabia, met opposition last year from investors including Invesco Ltd. (IVZ), the No. 1 shareholder, over merger talks with European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. (EAD) The combination eventually failed amid government opposition. Olver defended the plan that Invesco said lacked strategic rationale.
BAE “is well-positioned in a rapidly evolving industry to face uncertainties around defense budgets and has great opportunities in new geographies and technologies,” Carr said in today’s statement. “It is my intention to build on these strong foundations in the years ahead.”
Carr joins as BAE holds a 1 billion-pound ($1.55 billion) share buyback while the company’s future in its largest market, the U.S., is unsettled because of questions over long-term defense spending. The U.K. also is gearing up for a new strategic defense review, due in 2015.
Carr was unanimously chosen by the selection committee, said Nick Rose, the senior independent director at BAE who led the search this year. “His skills, reputation and relationships with investors and government ministers will be of considerable value to the company both at home and abroad,” Rose said in the statement.
BAE have advanced 17 percent in London trading this year, valuing the company at 12.7 billion pounds.
Centrica said separately today that Carr will leave his post as chairman next year.
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