James Moore: Sir Roger Carr the right man for a tough job at BAE

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The Independent Online

Outlook Another day, another 60-plus white guy gets to boost his pension with a FTSE 100 chairmanship. In this case, it's Sir Roger Carr, a serial non-executive director who is moving out of the frying pan at Centrica and into the – gas-powered? – fire at BAE Systems.

Sir Roger is the consummate business insider. He is a member of the Prime Minister's business advisory group, and has previously chaired Mitchells & Butlers, the pub company, and chocolate maker Cadbury, both businesses that have endured their fair share of struggles.

In short, he has exactly the sort of background that BAE needs.

The defence contractor badly mishandled its attempt to merge with EADS, the owner of Airbus, before the German government kiboshed the deal for fear it would lose influence over what is essentially a construct of the Franco-German alliance.

It is an alliance the US doesn't exactly trust, and BAE is naive if it thinks it doesn't have work to do to ensure that its American paymasters can be confident those perfidious Brits who own one of its big five defence contractors can be trusted.

At the same time, the company also needs to keep happy a shareholder base that has got used to a generous dividend but frets about its long-term stability at a time of falling defence budgets. All that and BAE's habit of generating bad headlines, with its history of corruption allegations and dealings with regimes that have less than savoury records on things like human rights.

Perhaps, given all that, we can forgive its lack of imagination. Keeping that gas fire from flaring up is going to be quite a challenge.