Rupert Soames to retire as Serco chief

Rupert Soames is to retire as chief executive of Serco after leading the London-listed outsourcer for almost a decade.

Soames, 63, who steered the company to recovery after it teetered on the brink of collapse in 2013, will step down as chief and from the board at the end of the year.

The company said he would be replaced by Mark Irwin, head of Serco’s UK and Europe division, following a selection process involving internal and external candidates.

“It has been the privilege of my working life to lead Serco for the last eight years, but it is now time for me to outsource myself,” Soames said in a statement.

“My respect and admiration for the wonderful team of people at Serco . . . is unbounded,” he added.

Irwin, 57, joined Serco in 2013, and previously ran the group’s Asia-Pacific division. Before Serco, he worked in private equity roles in the US and China, and for GE in the US and Australia.

John Rishton, Serco chair, said: “During our selection process it was clear that Mark’s deep knowledge of Serco in the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific, as well as his prior experience working in the US and the tremendous results he has delivered for us in all his roles make him the ideal person to lead the group through its next phase of growth.”

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