On June 30, BAE Systems chief executive Ian King will retire, and the next day he will be succeeded in that position by Charles Woodburn, 46, a longtime executive in the global energy sector. Mr. Woodburn inherits an enterprise that under his predecessor has established a strong track record for program execution and shareholder returns. After coping with the inevitable downturn in U.S. demand following America’s withdrawal from Iraq, Britain’s biggest military contractor is growing again — revenues were up in the last two years, and operating profits were up 10% in 2016 on a constant currency basis. The company’s already substantial backlog increased 14% last year, and King departs the executive suite with BAE still offering one of the highest dividend yields among defense majors. BAE has said that Mr. Woodburn will bring a fresh perspective to the chief executive’s position, but a continuation of the strong performance Ian King has delivered over the last several years of his tenure would undoubtedly be welcomed by shareholders. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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