Balfour Beatty names QinetiQ chief to lead turnaround

A Balfour Beatty worker on site
A Balfour Beatty worker on site
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Troubled infrastructure group Balfour Beatty has named Leo Quinn, head of defence technology firm QinetiQ, as its new chief executive, opting for a boss with a track record of turning businesses around.

Balfour, which has issued a string of profit warnings in the past year, has been without a CEO since May when Andrew McNaughton stepped down.

The company, which provides construction, engineering and facilities management services in more than 80 countries, said Mr Quinn would start the job on January 1.

Shares in Balfour Beatty rose more than 13 per cent to 169p following the announcement of Mr Quinn’s appointment.

“Leo has made a success of turning businesses around that have lost their way and with QinetiQ now positioned with the structure, processes and balance sheet to continue its journey, he is moving on to his next big challenge at Balfour,” said Roger Johnson, analyst at Edison Investment Research.

Shares in Qinetiq fell 8 per cent in trading, reflecting disappointment at the loss of Mr Quinn after five years at the helm.

Chief financial officer David Mellors will take over as acting CEO. The company said a search for a permanent CEO has started.

Mr Quinn, who also formerly held the role of CEO at banknote printer De La Rue, will receive a basic annual salary of £800,000 in addition to a pension and company benefits.

“His track record at QinetiQ is that he is extremely good, in terms of what he has done recently but also, in terms of his turnaround capabilities,” said Howard Seymour, analyst at Numis Securities.

“His credentials look excellent... and the share price is telling that as well.”

Balfour, which rejected a takeover offer from rival Carillion for the third time in August, is undergoing a review by KPMG across its UK construction business.