LONDON BAE Systems (BAES.L) has expanded the role of its Chief Operating Officer Charles Woodburn, the man widely expected to become its next CEO, to give him responsibility for the group's UK defence businesses and its cyber defence unit.
Europe's biggest defence contractor named Woodburn as COO in February, with sources at the time saying that the job made him heir apparent to Chief Executive Ian King, who is expected to retire next year, although there is no official timetable.
A spokeswoman for BAE said on Wednesday that BAE had told employees that Woodburn will be in charge of the strategy and performance of BAE's defence projects in Britain as well as its Applied Intelligence cyber defence unit.
BAE's UK defence business, which accounts for about 40 percent of underlying group sales, includes complex programmes such as the production of Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets and future projects to renew the country's nuclear-armed submarines and build a number of Type 26 Global Combat Ships.
"The move allows Charles to focus on the execution of our company strategy as Chief Operating Officer, allowing Ian as Chief Executive to focus on the continued strategic development of the group," the spokeswoman said.
Woodburn, a former oil industry executive, started working at BAE in May.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Greg Mahlich)