Babcock lures ex-MI5 boss

The defence giant is in talks to hire Sir Andrew Parker as a non-executive director

Sir Andrew Parker stepped down from MI5 this year 
Sir Andrew Parker stepped down from MI5 this year  Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Defence giant Babcock International is preparing to hire the former boss of MI5 to its board.

The FTSE 250 warship-builder is in advanced talks with Sir Andrew Parker, who stepped down as director-general of the UK’s domestic intelligence service in April after seven years, Sky News reported.

Babcock has been overhauling its board following a difficult few years during which shares have fallen by 66pc, from 825.5p in October 2017 to 278.6p on Friday.

Chief executive Archie Bethel retired this year, and has been replaced by former Cobham boss David Lockwood, while David Mellors has been appointed finance chief from the same role at Cobham.

Former chairman Mike Turner retired last year and has been replaced by Ruth Cairnie.

Sir Andrew would join as a non-executive director, according to Sky News. He is said to be going through approval processes, and an announcement on his appointment could yet be weeks away.

In an interview with the Financial Times in January, Sir Andrew spoke of the challenges of dealing with terrorist attacks as well as the “ethical responsibility” of social media companies to help intelligence services investigate terrorism suspects.

Babcock is building Type 31 frigates for the Royal Navy, maintains Navy fleets, services army weapons and trains pilots for the military, with half of its annual £4.5bn revenue coming from military contracts.

It came under attack in 2018 and 2019 in a report by anonymous analyst Boatman Capital Research, which alleged Babcock had misled investors by burying bad news – denied by Babcock.

In results for the year ended March 31, 2020, it reported statutory revenue of £4.4bn and a statutory loss of £165m. Bethel said the group was in a “strong position” to deal with the pandemic, and that the Government had ensured suppliers were still being paid.

Babcock declined to comment.