Swede poised to take top job at engineer Invensys

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The Independent Online

Invensys, the engineering group, will announce this week that Ulf Henriksson, its chief operating officer, will become the group's new chief executive.

Invensys, the engineering group, will announce this week that Ulf Henriksson, its chief operating officer, will become the group's new chief executive.

Mr Henriksson, who has been seen as the prime candidate for the top job since he joined the company last year, will replace Rick Haythornthwaite, who is leaving after four tumultuous years in the role. His departure will be announced at the group's full-year results on Thursday, when Mr Henriksson's appointment is expected to be confirmed.

He takes over the baton as the company begins to emerge from its turnaround programme. When Mr Haythornthwaite took over in 2001, it was buckling under £3.5bn of debt and was slashing its headcount to try to cut costs and meet its banking covenants. Staff numbers had come down to 76,000 from 125,000 since the company was formed from the merger of BTR and Siebe in 1998. Mr Haythornthwaite, who was fresh from selling Blue Circle, the cement group, to Lafarge, the French construction giant, masterminded a controversial £2.7bn debt refinancing that steadied Invensys's finances and sold off £2.6bn of assets. By 2007, Invensys's debts are projected to fall to £900m.

But Mr Haythornthwaite has indicated for some time he does not believe he could do much more for Invensys. "I don't think I'm the right guy to run this long-term," he said last year.

Mr Henriksson, a Swede, enjoyed a £2m golden hello when he joined Invensys from its US rival, Eaton Corp - a sign he was being groomed as Mr Haythornthwaite's successor. A former employee of Honeywell and Volvo, he is seen as a more hands-on engineer, and investors want to see improvements in underlying trading at the group.

Mr Haythornthwaite will not get a pay-off as his contract gives only a one-month notice period.

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