Rolls-Royce chief to step down

Engine giant Rolls-Royce announced today that chief executive Sir John Rose was standing down after more than 14 years at the helm.

Sir John will clock off at the end of March, having been in the post since May 1996 and notched up a 26-year career with the FTSE 100 Index-listed firm.

His successor has been named as former British Airways finance chief John Rishton, currently the boss at Dutch retail group Royal Ahold, who has also been a non-executive director at Rolls since 2007.

Rolls-Royce chairman Sir Simon Robertson paid tribute to Sir John's "leadership, strategic vision and tenacity" during his time at the helm of the civil aerospace and defence firm.

Mr Rishton takes the post with a pay package worth a potential £6 million - including a £2.8 million shares award in lieu of bonus payments forfeited on resigning from his current job.

Rolls said the deal will see Mr Rishton earn an annual salary of £850,000, as well as a maximum yearly bonus worth a possible 155% of base pay and up to £1 million in shares under the long-term incentive scheme.

The terms are similar to Sir John's, who is paid £867,000 a year.

His departure comes amid a raft of management changes at Britain's biggest firms.

BP's embattled chief executive Tony Hayward hands over the reins to Bob Dudley tomorrow, while there has been a clean sweep at the major banking groups. Barclays and HSBC have both announced changes at the top in the past month.

Rolls said Sir John, 57, would leave after establishing the group as a global player and creating a platform to double revenues in the next 10 years.

Sir Simon said: "John has led a transformation in Rolls-Royce which has few parallels.

"As he would be the first to point out, this has been a team effort, but it has been his leadership, strategic vision and tenacity which has made this extraordinary achievement possible."

Sir John, who is married with three children, joined Rolls in 1984 and was knighted in 2003.

When he took on the top post, Rolls had revenues of £3.6 billion and profits of £175 million. He has since helped drive a nearly three-fold increase in sales to £10.1 billion in 2009, while profits soared to £915 million last year.

He said: "It has been my great good fortune to work for Rolls-Royce.

"The people in this extraordinary company have my deepest admiration and it has been a tremendous privilege to work with them."

Sir Simon said incoming boss Mr Rishton was the "unanimous" choice of the board, with a proven track record as a chief executive of a global company and a background in aerospace and manufacturing.

The 52-year-old was appointed president and chief executive of Royal Ahold in 2006.

He previously acted for four years as chief financial officer at BA, and he has held various executive positions at Ford Europe.