Aggreko chief Rupert Soames to join Serco

 

One of the FTSE 100’s longest-standing chief executives was today poached by Serco as the scandal-hit outsourcing company attempts to rebuild its shattered reputation.

After 11 years running temporary power group Aggreko, Rupert Soames, 54, the grandson of Winston Churchill, will take the helm at Serco in April.

He will replace Chris Hyman, who resigned last October after the Docklands Light Railway and Boris bikes operator was accused by the Government of overcharging taxpayers to monitor the electronic tags of offenders who it turned out were dead, non-existent or in custody.

The company was temporarily barred from bidding for work with the Government, its biggest customer, after  the scandal.

Shares in Serco — which has issued two profit warnings in the past three and a half months — surged 10 per cent  on the news, from 40.6p to 451.4p.

However, Aggreko, which has appointed finance director Angus Cockburn as interim chief executive, saw its shares sink by 5 per cent to 1547p.

Soames said he had “loved every minute” of his time at Aggreko, which powered the London Olympics and the inauguration of President Obama, “but there comes a time when all chief executives need to move on”.

The power group’s chairman, Ken Hanna, said: “Clearly we’re disappointed, but we knew this day would come eventually and we’ve been planning for it.”

Soames warned Hanna a fortnight ago that he was talking to Serco, and formally resigned last night. “It’s not totally unexpected, but the timing is a surprise,” the chairman added. “I didn’t know Serco well but clearly I’ve done some homework in the last few weeks. It’s had its challenges and clearly thinks Rupert is the man to take it forward, whilst he’s decided he wants one more big executive challenge.”

Soames, who faced controversy over a £7.1 million pay packet in 2012, will be paid £850,000 at Serco, plus a £255,000 pension, and be eligible for a bonus of up to 150 per cent of his salary plus shares worth up to 200 per cent of his salary. Hyman took home £2.5 million in his last year in charge at Serco.

Soames has a starkly different style to Serco’s quiet former chief executive. Hyman is a 50-year-old devout Christian who has rarely given interviews.

The affable Soames, whose first job was running the disco at Annabel’s nightclub in Mayfair, loved attending music festivals at Glastonbury, where Aggreko provides the power, and variously described his company’s performance as “not entirely shabby” and “better than a slap in the face with a wet fish”. He starts at Serco in June.

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