New CEO of UK's Rolls-Royce brings in new CFO, makes leadership changes

European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva
A Rolls Royce logo is pictured during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
  • Hires BP's Helen McCabe as CFO
  • New heads of civil aerospace, defence
  • Says moves will drive transformation

LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - The new boss of Rolls-Royce (RR.L) has sought to make his mark on the British engineering company, hiring Helen McCabe from his alma mater BP (BP.L) as chief financial officer and announcing two new divisional heads from within the company.

Tufan Erginbilgic, who took the helm of Rolls-Royce in January, has called the company a "burning platform" and launched a transformation programme to improve the profitability of the maker of engines for Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 planes.

Shares in Rolls-Royce have surged 60% since the start of the year, lifted by optimism about a recovery in air travel and Erginbilgic's turnaround plans.

The company on Friday named McCabe, a BP executive, as its new chief financial officer, to join later this year. She will replace Panos Kakoullis who has been in the job for less than two years.

Rob Watson takes on the role of president of civil aerospace with immediate effect, moving from Rolls-Royce's electric aviation unit, while Adam Riddle becomes president of the defence business.

New finance chief McCabe is currently senior vice president, finance for the customer and products division of BP.

Commenting on the hire, Erginbilgic said: "Her track record of promoting rigorous financial discipline and experience of delivering performance management to achieve dramatic improvements will be invaluable as we move, at pace, to transform Rolls-Royce."

The previous civil aerospace boss Chris Cholerton was named group president, taking on responsibility for Rolls-Royce's nuclear operations, including temporarily as interim CEO of its small modular reactors (SMR) unit.

Rolls-Royce said the previous SMR boss, Tom Samson, would leave with immediate effect.

The group wants SMRs, smaller nuclear power stations, to be a major part of its future and is competing to be selected by the British government as the chosen design to help generate electricity for the country's grid.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton

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Sarah reports on UK breaking news, with a focus on British companies. She has been a part of the UK bureau for 12 years covering everything from airlines to energy to the royals, politics and sport. She is a keen open water swimmer.