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BAE Systems has confirmed that Charles Woodburn will take over from Ian King as chief executive in July this year, following reports of the switch in leadership earlier this month.

Mr King, 60, had been widely expected to retire this year after nine years at the helm of the world’s third-largest defence group by sales, with Mr Woodburn, who joined in 2016 as chief operating officer, already tipped as his likely successor.

Mr Woodburn is expected to take a look at BAE’s strategy in an environment where the company will need to diversify its longer term revenue growth away from the UK government even as defence spending is showing signs of a revival.

Commenting on the appointment, Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems said:

After a distinguished career, Ian will retire leaving a legacy of disciplined performance, ethical behaviour, a burgeoning order book, a track record of delivering shareholder value and a strong leadership team. During his tenure as chief executive, Ian has built a world-class defence engineering and technology business, providing vital capabilities to our customers and contributing to the security and economic prosperity of the nations in which we operate.

Since his appointment last year, Charles has made an important contribution to the Company, bringing impeccable engineering credentials, broad international experience and fresh perspectives to build on our existing strengths. In his new role, he will build on an enviable inheritance to create an exciting future, where we will continue to be performance-driven and values-led.

Mr Woodburn’s base salary will increase to £875,000 year when he takes up the chief executive role on 1 July.

BAE is set to announce annual profits on Thursday.

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