BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence contractor, is to unveil Cressida Hogg, the infrastructure veteran, as its first female chair.
Sky News has learnt that the FTSE-100 manufacturer plans to announce the appointment of Mrs Hogg as the successor to Sir Roger Carr alongside its half-year results on Thursday morning.
Her recruitment will mean for the first time that all three of Britain’s biggest industrial manufacturers – BAE, Babcock International Group and Rolls-Royce Holdings – will have women as chairs.
Mrs Hogg, who sits on the board of the London Stock Exchange Group, is due to step down from the helm of the FTSE-100 property company Landsec next year.
Her background is in large-scale infrastructure projects, having co-founded the infrastructure division of 3i Group in 2005.
She subsequently held a senior post at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), one of the world’s largest pension funds, and more recently was in the frame to chair the Royal Opera House.
One City insider said her appointment as chair-designate of BAE Systems, which has a market value of close to £25bn, was likely to be well-received by shareholders.
Alongside chief executive Charles Woodburn, she will represent the next generation of British corporate leadership, taking over from one of the most prominent figures in the UK business world for the last two decades.
BAE shares are riding the crest of a wave, having been buoyed by demand in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The stock has soared by more than 40% during the last 12 months.
The company has also, though, been grappling with greater scrutiny from investors focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, which have prompted some to shed their defence holdings.
Lord Sedwill, the former Cabinet secretary, recently joined BAE’s board as a non-executive director.
The company is a founding member of the Tempest fighter-jet programme, and has extensive involvement in providing defence capabilities to all three of the UK’s armed forces, as well as major overseas customers.
Sky News revealed in May last year that BAE was preparing to kick off the search for a new chair despite the fact that Sir Roger would not be departing until the 2023 annual meeting.
The requirement for such a lengthy process was necessitated by BAE’s unique corporate governance framework.
It must have a British chief executive who is eligible for the highest level of security clearance, and while it is allowed to employ an overseas citizen as its chairman, the government’s strong preference is for a Brit to hold that role as well.
Mrs Hogg is a British citizen.
The chairmanship search has been led by Chris Grigg, the former British Land chief who is the arms manufacturer’s senior independent director.
Sir Roger inherited the BAE role from Sir Dick Olver, who stepped down months after the company abandoned a €34bn merger with EADS, the European aerospace group.
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Mr Woodburn, BAE chief executive, said in a trading update in May that BAE’s “diverse portfolio, together with our focus on programme execution, cash generation and efficiencies, are helping us to navigate the challenging operating environment in the near term, while positioning us well for sustained top line and margin growth in the coming years, alongside accelerating our ESG agenda”.
“Additionally, we see opportunities to further enhance the medium- term outlook as our customers address the elevated threat environment.”
Last year, Mr Woodburn was handed a £2m share award aimed at retaining his services after he had been offered the chance to run Rio Tinto, the FTSE-100 miner.
BAE was contacted for comment on Thursday evening.
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