Archive : BAe loses Rover saviour

THE GUARDIAN, By Simon Beavis

British Aerospace has lost the fight to hold on to one of its key directors with confirmation that George Simpson, the groups deputy chief executive and chairman of Rover, is leaving to take control of Lucas Industries.

Mr Simpsons move to Lucas–where he will become chief executive of the motor components and aerospace engineering group–had been widely predicted but was only officially announced yesterday. He will take up the post next May. The move is a blow to BAe where Mr Simpson has been credited with turning round Rover and reshaping the groups construction and property interests. Observers believe that there is also now little prospect that Rover will be floated off from the group, a scheme which Mr Simpson favoured.

But his appointment is a much needed boost to Lucas, which has been battered by recession and whose chairman and chief executive, Sir Anthony Gill, has been searching for a successor since his heir apparent, Tony Edwards, quit as group managing director a year ago after a boardroom split. Sir Anthony will stay on as non-executive chairman.

In October, the Birmingham based group announced a doubling of profits to £50.3 million, after heavy cost cutting for the year to the end of July…

Mr Simpson, aged 51, moved into the motor industry in 1969 and became managing director of the Rover Group in 1988. He joined the main BAe board three years later. Commenting on his appointment he said : “My experience at Rover and BAe tells me that there are few more competitive business sectors than automotive and aerospace, and I understand fully the magnitude of my new challenge.”

Keith Adams

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