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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

16 Oct 07. BAE Systems plc announces that Mike Turner will be stepping down as Chief Executive Officer and leaving the Board at the end of August 2008.
The Company is now commencing the process of appointing a successor as Chief Executive Officer to achieve an orderly handover.

Mike Turner said: “I have decided to retire from the Company next year when I reach 60 after 42 years with the Company, the last five and a half years as CEO. I am pleased to be leaving a great company in such excellent financial shape and with a strong forward strategy and robust business plan.”

Dick Olver, Chairman, said: “I would like to thank Mike for his committed and dedicated service over 42 years; particularly over recent years for his part in the Company’s strong financial performance and strategic execution. The Board wishes Mike the greatest success as he sets about the next phase of his career.”

Mike Turner’s departure next year will mean the end of the ‘Old Guard’ at BAE Systems who oversaw the transformation of the Company from a Government-owned aircraft manufacturer, the British Aircraft Corporation, or BAC, formed from the merger (under government pressure) of English Electric Aviation Ltd., Vickers-Armstrong (Aircraft), the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Hunting Aircraft in 1960. Bristol, English Electric and Vickers became “parents” of BAC with shareholdings of 40%, 40% and 20% respectively. BAC in turn acquired the share capital of their aviation interests and 70% of Hunting several months later, to the international Britsih Aerospace and then BAE Systems with interests in all three defence areas, Land, Sea and Air.

British Aerospace (BAe) was first formed as a nationalised corporation in April 1977 by the merger of the British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and Scottish Aviation. State control over the arms trade didn’t survive for very long under the Thatcher government, however, with the UK Government selling 51.57% of its shares in BAe in 1981, upon its formation as a public limited company (PLC). In 1985, the UK Government sold its remaining shares, keeping only a special £1 share in order to ensure that the company continues under British control (foreign ownership of BAE SYSTEMS is limited by law to 29.5%).

It was Dick Evans with Mike Turner who oversaw the huge AlYamamah I & II projects and now the (See: BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.9 ISSUE 17, 17 September 2007, SAUDI ARABIA AGREES TYPHOON PURCHASE) agreement with the UK Government to purchase 72 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. The agreement follows plans outlined in December 2005 to establish a greater partnership in modernising the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, “Project Salam”.

Meanwhile, in 1988 BAe began to expand its holdings, starting with the acquistion of the Rover group. By 1991 Heckler & Koch GMbh, the German small arms company, had joined them, and in 1992 the company reorganised itself. The arms side of the company were amalgamated into British Aerospace Defence Limited, whereas three new companies were formed to replace British Aerospace (Commercial Aircraft) Limited. These were British Aerospace Airbus Limited, British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Limited and British Aerospace Corporate Jets Limited. As well as internal reorganisation, BAe also began to form alliances with other companies in the arms sector; in October 1993 a joint venture company was formed with GEC-Marconi to ‘manage and develop their involvement in the naval Principal Anti-Air Missile System guided weapons project.’ This reflected the increasing trend for co-operation between companies in the sector.

The team of Dick Evans, Mike Turner, Mike Rouse, John Weston, Chris Mogford, Chris Geaoghan and later Ian King (the heir apparent) successfully built up British Aerospace, later, renamed BAE Systems by acquisition and mergers. The flood

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