BAE Systems launches £1.5bn buyback as Cressida Hogg confirmed as new chair

BAE Systems has confirmed that Cressida Hogg will become the first woman to chair its board, as Britain’s biggest defense contractor launched a £1.5bn share buyback program and boosted its interim dividend.

The FTSE 100 group said on Thursday that Hogg, who is chair at Landsec, would join as chair designate in November. She will take over from the outgoing chair, Sir Roger Carr, at BAE’s annual meeting in May next year.

Chris Grigg, the board’s senior independent director who led the search for a successor to Carr, said Hogg had been the “unanimous choice” of the nominations committee and would bring a “strong record of boardroom leadership allied with a deep understanding of large long- term international projects and businesses” to the company.

The news came as BAE reported higher first-half profits. The company, which builds submarines, fighter jets and ships, said underlying earnings before interest and tax rose 8.2 per cent to £1.11bn in the six months to the end of June. It will also launch a £1.5bn share buyback program over the next three years.

Charles Woodburn, BAE chief executive, said trading in the period had been “in line with expectations, delivering strong order intake and good operational performance”.

The company, he added, saw “further opportunities to enhance the medium- and long‑term outlook as our customers commit to increased defense spending to address the elevated threat environment”.

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