New Serco boss Rupert Soames reins in overseas arms

 
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Serco’s new boss Rupert Soames yesterday put his stamp on the embattled firm, bringing more control of the outsourcer’s overseas businesses back to the UK and announcing a split from its rail partner after more than a decade.

The company’s head of Africa, Middle East, Asia and Australasia will step down as part of the plan to streamline management.

David Campbell’s responsibilities will be split by country, with managers reporting directly to Soames and chief operating officer Ed Casey.

Serco’s Hong Kong office will close under the restructuring. The company’s top brass will also take a firmer grip on the business in Australia, where it has faced criticism over its contracts to run immigration detention centres.

“This change will simplify the management structure, reduce cost, and give our important growth markets in the Middle East and Australia greater visibility,” said Soames, who started running the company in May.

Soames has begun a review of the entire business as he tries to address a string of controversies, including an ongoing probe by the Serious Fraud Office into prisoner tagging contracts.

Meanwhile, Serco said it would not bid for new rail franchises with Abellio, which had been its partner on the Northern Rail contract since 2003.

The pair will run Northern until 2016, but the two companies have “agreed to pursue separate paths in respect of the new… franchise” during the tender process this year.

“Both companies have been bidding separately for several years and the question of a joint bid arises only because it is the Northern Rail franchise that is coming to market,” the pair said in a joint statement yesterday.

Shares in Serco, which have fallen more than 40 per cent in the past year, closed down 0.1 per cent at 360p.

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