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BAE Systems confirms appointment of first female chair as profit rise

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Defence giant BAE Systems has confirmed that Cressida Hogg will become its first female chair as the group launched a £1.5 billion share buyback programme.

The UK’s largest defence contractor said Ms Hogg – who is currently chair of commercial property landlord Land Securities – will join BAE as a non-executive director and chair designate on November 1 before succeeding Sir Roger Carr in the role at its annual meeting in May next year.

Chris Grigg, BAE’s senior independent director, who led the search for Sir Roger’s successor, said Ms Hogg was the “unanimous choice” and will “bring to our board a strong record of boardroom leadership allied with a deep understanding of large long-term international projects and businesses”.

The announcement came as BAE reported an 8.2% rise in underlying pre-tax earnings to £1.1 billion.

It unveiled details of shareholder returns, with plans for a three-year share buyback of up to £1.5 billion and a 5% increase in its interim investor dividend payout.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: “Our diverse portfolio, together with our focus on programme execution, cash generation and efficiencies are helping us navigate the current macroeconomic challenges and position us well for sustained top line and margin growth in the coming years.

“We see further opportunities to enhance the medium- and long‑term outlook as our customers commit to increased defence spending to address the elevated threat environment.”

It stuck by guidance for full-year sales to be between 2% and 4% higher than in 2021, with underlying earnings expected to rise by between 4% and 6%.

Oh her appointment, Ms Hogg said: “BAE Systems plays a key role in defence and security both in the UK and internationally.

“I very much look forward to working with Charles and the other board members through the next phase of the Company’s development.”

Sir Roger will retire next May after more than nine years in the role.

Mr Grigg paid tribute to the outgoing chairman, who had said has left a “strong legacy in terms of its leadership, performance and the quality of its governance”.

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