Ian Much, who stepped down from T&N earlier this year following its takeover by Federal-Mogul, the US manufacturer, will become chief executive on 1 September.
The appointment follows a five-month search by De La Rue after Jeremy Marshall, its former chief executive, was forced out in March.
Yesterday Brandon Gough, De La Rue's chairman, said Mr Much had been the board's first choice. "Ian was the guy we thought fitted our specification surprisingly well," he said.
Mr Gough said Mr Much understood international business and had a strong reputation for building a good management team.
City observers were divided on the appointment. "He's not exactly known as a mover and a shaker," one analyst said. "But then at T&N he just got on with the job."
De La Rue shares fell to 9.5p to 244.5p on the news. They peaked at more than pounds 10 in 1995.
Mr Much, 53, spent 10 years at T&N, the final two of which as chief executive. However, for most of his time there he was overshadowed by Sir Colin Hope, T&N's chairman, and his attempts to limit the company's exposure to claims related to its past as a producer of asbestos.
Mr Much, who is believed to have received compensation of more than pounds 900,000 upon leaving T&N, will earn a basic salary of pounds 330,000. His contract will initially be for a two-year fixed period but will eventually move to a one-year rolling basis.
After Mr Marshall's departure, Mr Gough instigated a strategic review which concluded that the company should sell its cash handling operations and reduce capacity in its banknote printing subsidiary.
However, he said De La Rue's remaining operations, whose products and services he described as "second to none", needed to improve their profitability.
"There's no getting away from the fact that while the strategy sounds good it hasn't delivered the results shareholders need," he said.