UK outsourcer Capita poaches Go-Ahead finance chief

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Patrick Butcher’s appointment comes as group seeks turnround following profit warnings

Capita, the UK’s largest outsourcer, has poached a new chief finance officer from transport group Go-Ahead.

Patrick Butcher will take control of Capita’s finances at a difficult time for the company, which is working on a turnround following multiple profit warnings last year.

Mr Butcher has 19 years of experience as a finance director, including six at Network Rail and two at Go-Ahead. He will remain at Go-Ahead for the next few months before moving to Capita to replace Nick Greatorex, who informed the board in July that he planned to resign.

The appointment, announced on Wednesday, is the latest move by Capita to become a “more focused and predictable business” after years of acquisitions that spread it too thin.

The company holds contracts for running the London congestion charge, British army recruitment and BBC licence fee collection.

Jon Lewis, Capita’s chief executive, who was appointed late last year to lead the company’s recovery, said Mr Butcher was joining “at an exciting time”.

“We have delevered the balance sheet, disposed of non-core assets, started to reduce costs and invest in the business. We are looking forward to adding Patrick’s new perspective, energy and experience to support the good start we have made with our transformation programme,” he said in a statement.

Contractors in the UK have been under particular pressure since the collapse of Carillion in January.

Earlier this month, Capita’s shares were hit as it reported a 59 per cent fall in pre-tax profit for the first six months of the year.

Mr Lewis said after the results: “We shall increase Capita’s focus upon technology-led complex activities by building out existing strengths in digital transformation, software, platforms and data analytics, a large, long term structural growth market, and we plan to deliver double digit underlying ebit [earnings before interest and taxes] margins within the next three years.”

Mr Lewis oversaw a £700m fundraising for the company in April and announced a transformation strategy under which the company aims to introduce £175m in cost savings by 2020 and focus its efforts around growth markets.

In a statement on Wednesday, FTSE 250-listed Go-Ahead, which operates the Govia Thameslink and Southern Rail franchises, said it had begun a process to appoint a successor to Mr Butcher and would make a further announcement in due course.

Shares in Capita were trading up 1.3 per cent at 144.75p by late afternoon on Wednesday, while shares at Go-Ahead were broadly flat.