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Mike Turner is stepping down early – very early – as chief executive of BAE Systems. He says he will go next August, when he turns 60, having only just told us he’d like to remain in his post until “at least” 65. There have been rumblings about a desire on the board for a change of culture at the defence group, and you may remember that Turner clashed with the chairman, Dick Olver, two years ago. Turner, though has done some great things with the company, lifting the share price and shifting its centre of gravity towards the US. The leading internal candidate to succeed him is Ian King, COO, but the job could well go to an external candidate.

Today’s other big story is that Alfred McAlpine – in the process of splitting itself in two – has rejected two takeover approaches from Carillion. The first approach, in August, was at 560p; the second, this week, was at 570p. McAlpine shares are up 3 per cent but still short of even the first offer, at 549.5p.

Adam Applegarth, Matt Ridley, Sir Derek Wanless and Sir Ian Gibson appeared before the Treasury Select Committee this morning to defend their stewardship of Northern Rock. Both chairman and chief executive offered to quit, we heard. They all took a few punches but few that really hurt. I’m afraid the meeting seemed to go on forever and I got distracted by real work. Read our banking editor’s account or watch it for yourself online.

Audit firms could face significant upheaval if the accounting regulator takes on board a series of recommendations published today by an industry grouping. Among the 15 suggestions put forward by the Markets Participants Group, convened by the Financial Reporting Council, are the first signs that the industry could change its long-held partnership structure and open itself to greater public scrutiny.

We also have decent first half results from Whitbread and a not-too-bad trading update from Burberry.

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