Bottom Line: Shareholders need Churchillian spirit

Suzie Neuwirth
NEWS of Rupert Soames’ appointment as Serco chief executive cheered the market back in February, sending the scandal-struck outsourcing firm’s share price up more than 10 per cent.

With his impressive lineage as Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson and his remarkable track record at the helm of Aggreko, Soames inspired confidence in Serco’s investors that he could put the company back on track.

Not quite “fight them on the beaches”, but “fight them from the boardroom” perhaps.

Yesterday’s muted share reaction to a seriously gloomy trading update shows that investors are still confident in Soames’ ability to defend their cause.

But there were very few glimmers of light for Serco – not only are writedowns on the cards, but the company is already flagging up another possible profit warning.

First-half margins will be much lower, as expected, and Serco has given no news on finding a successor to chief financial officer Andrew Jenner, who announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down.

All eyes will be on the results of Soames’ nine month long strategic review, set to be announced next March. Until then, the company is in a state of flux, with its outlook unknown to shareholders, the market and perhaps even to Soames himself.

Serco investors had better be braced for more bad news.

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