Clark leaves Cobham as shake-up creates new division

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The Aerospace and defence group Cobham is shaking up its divisional structure in a move that sees the departure of one of its longest-serving directors, Robin Clark.

Mr Clark, 58, left Cobham last week after 22 years with the company as a result of a restructuring of its flight refuelling operations. Mr Clark was employed on a two-year contract so will be in line for substantial compensation.

Cobham is creating a new division, Aerospace Systems, which will be run by Rolls-Royce board member Andrew Stevens. The 45-year-old head of Rolls-Royce's defence aerospace business will join the company in November.

The division will not include the Westwind high-speed bearings division, which analysts said meant the unit had effectively been put up for sale.

"The rationale for this change is to more clearly align" the company's "products and services with the customers and the markets they serve", the company said.

It emphasised that the two remaining divisions, Avionics and Flight Operations & Services, remained unaffected by the changes.

Cobham is targeting purchases in aerospace and defence in the United States, which accounts for a third of sales, and is buying Northrop Grumman's life-support unit. The company raised £106m in a share sale last month to reduce debt and fund acquisitions. Its share price rose yesterday 15p to 1185p.

It is hoping to supply flight-refuelling equipment for the C-130J flying tanker to be used by US Marines. It is currently supplying the guidance systems for 200,000 Paveway laser-guided bombs under a $2bn (£1.3bn) seven-year contract won by the US manufacturers Raytheon and Lockheed.

In March, Allan Cook, Cobham's chief exectuive, announced a 14 per cent increase in full-year profits to £99.4m with military sales boosted by the Iraq war.