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Rolls-Royce shakes up top management amid ongoing restructuring

September 22, 2016

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc extended a yearlong shake-up of top management by appointing an executive from the publisher of the Daily Mail to oversee accounts at the embattled plane-engine maker.

Stephen Daintith, 52, will succeed  David Smith as chief financial officer next year, Rolls-Royce said in a statement on Thursday. Smith, 55, is leaving the London-based manufacturer to “pursue other business interests” after three years in the post, only slightly longer than his predecessor. Daintith has spent much of his career in media, including previous positions at News Corp. and Dow Jones & Co.

CEO Warren East has been reworking Rolls-Royce’s highest management layers and creating new positions as he seeks to pare costs and turn the engineering behemoth into a more nimble organization capable of responding to shocks such as the collapse in oil prices. He’s streamlined the company by cutting the number of divisions to five from nine and eliminating more than 600 senior and middle-management positions.

Rolls-Royce has about 50,000 employees worldwide, including about 4,000 in the Indianapolis area who work on manufacturing, assembly, test, engineering and in a variety of staff-support roles. About 4,500 worked in Indianapolis two years ago.

Last week, the company infomed staff that it was cutting 200 more management jobs companywide.

The CFO replacement emphasizes “the CEO’s determination to inject more pace into the transformation of Rolls-Royce,” said Sandy Morris, an analyst at Jefferies in London. “The senior management team is likely to have to go at some lick for some years, so it is essential to have a team that can sustain that.”

Oil’s effects

The manufacturer has suffered amid stuttering demand for engines that power regional planes, business jets and older wide-body aircraft. Sales of Rolls-Royce’s marine engines have also collapsed following the oil-price slide, and the company is at a critical stage of a ramp-up in production of a new series of turbines for the latest generation of Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co. airliners.

Rolls-Royce shares rose as much as 1.7 percent Thursday, reversing a decline earlier in the day. The stock has jumped 29 percent this year, valuing the company at $17.7 billion.

Top executive changes have included the naming earlier this month of Simon Kirby, previously head of the United Kingdom's High Speed 2 railway, as Rolls-Royce’s first chief operating officer, as well as the appointment late last year of a new civil-aerospace division chief and the split-up of the marine and power-systems business into separate units.

The manufacturer has also set up a transformation team to oversee restructuring and appointed a chief of staff. It’s searching for a new marketing and strategy director and a head of digital operations to lead a push into so-called big-data analysis, a spokesman said by e-mail.

Daintith’s “deep understanding of international business and his record of achievement in change management are particularly relevant to Rolls-Royce as we build our business and respond to the growing global requirement for our technology,” East said in the statement.

The CEO is also revising Rolls-Royce’s financial-disclosure policies following five profit warnings, including two since he took office in July 2015. East’s revisions to guidance have marked an attempt to make a clean break from his predecessor,  John Rishton, who clashed with investors over earnings transparency and key strategy decisions.

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