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Babcock names Rolls-Royce exec Ruth Cairnie as first female chair

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(Reuters) – Britain’s Babcock International Group said Rolls-Royce executive Ruth Cairnie would take over from outgoing chairman Mike Turner, becoming the first woman to hold the role at the engineering and defence services provider.

Babcock, a key supplier to Britain’s ministry of defence, said on Wednesday Cairnie will assume the role on Turner’s retirement at the annual general meeting on July 18.

Turner’s resignation in January came amid a decline in Babcock’s share price and company warnings that income from nuclear decommissioning would fall sharply.

The incoming chair has 37 years of industry experience, which includes a non-executive director stint at jet engine giant Rolls-Royce since 2014 and nine years at Royal Dutch Shell.

Babcock, which provides services ranging from the maintenance of nuclear submarines to aerial fire-fighting across Europe, has had to allay doubts about its financial health, management and its key customer relationships in recent months.

The company has also been hit by Brexit uncertainties. In February, it warned that it would cost the company 10 million pounds a year in restructuring the business to safeguard its services in case Britain leaves the European Union without a trade deal.

Cairnie is currently also the senior independent director of Associated British Foods and a non-executive director at ContourGlobal.

(Reporting by Justin George Varghese and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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