Babcock appoints Ruth Cairnie as first chairwoman

Defence giant Babcock International has named former Royal Dutch Shell executive Ruth Cairnie as its first chairwoman.

She will succeed outgoing chairman Mike Turner on his retirement at Babcock’s annual shareholder meeting on July 18 after 11 years in the role.

Ms Cairnie – who will join the board of Babcock as a non-executive director on April 3 – enjoyed a 37-year career at blue chip Royal Dutch Shell and is a non-executive director at engine maker Rolls-Royce and senior independent director of Primark owner Associated British Foods.

She takes on the role at Babcock at a testing time for the group, which is the Ministry of Defence’s second largest contractor.

Babcock shares were sent tumbling late last year after a highly critical research paper posted by a mystery analyst called Boatman Capital.

The report alleged Babcock had a “terrible” relationship with the MoD, and claimed the firm had “systematically misled investors by burying bad news about its performance”.

Babcock denied the claims as “false and malicious”.

But its results have been hit, with half-year profits plunging 64% to £65.1 million.

It revealed in February an extra £10 million tax hit due to Brexit and the restructuring of its aerial emergency services business.

On Ms Cairnie’s appointment, Mr Turner said: “She is a strategic thinker and strong leader, and we look forward to her bringing her in-depth experience, gained from a broad range of executive and non-executive roles at leading industrial companies, both in the UK and internationally, to benefit Babcock.”

Ms Cairnie said: “I am hugely enthusiastic about the opportunity to oversee the next stage of Babcock’s development as a major company delivering complex engineering to support its clients, both in the UK and internationally.”