New GKN chief leaves before starting role

GKN engineer

Engineering giant GKN has said its new chief executive is to leave the company before even taking up the role.

Kevin Cummings had been due to assume the role on 1 January, but the company said it was now looking for “alternative leadership”.

The move came as GKN announced another write-down at its aerospace division, which Mr Cummings used to head.

GKN said it would take a further charge of up to £130m at its North American aerospace unit.

Shares in GKN sank more than 7% on the news.

GKN’s products include wing tips for Airbus and components for carmakers.

In October this year, the company issued a profit warning, which was partly due to “operational challenges” at its aerospace business in North America.

At the time, GKN said it would take a £15m charge to cover problems at its plant in Alabama.

All change

In its latest update, GKN said that in light of the issues at its Alabama plant, “a review of working capital has been initiated across other aerospace plants in North America”.

“While this review is not yet complete, it is likely to result in a further write-off estimated to be between £80m and £130m, much of which built up before 2017.”

GKN said it had brought forward the start date of the new chief executive of GKN Aerospace – Hans Buethker, who was formerly chief executive of Fokker Technologies – so he could begin immediately.

Kevin Cummings joined GKN Aerospace in North America in 2008. He was made chief executive of the aerospace division in January 2014 and was appointed to GKN’s board in January 2016.

Following Mr Cummings’ departure, GKN has asked Anne Stevens, currently a non-executive director at GKN, to take over as interim chief executive on 1 January 2018 until a full-time successor is appointed.

The company’s current chief executive, Nigel Stein, is still due to retire at the end of the year.

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