Rolls-Royce, which has been struggling to weather the historic aerospace downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, has named former Deloitte partner Panos Kakoullis as its new chief financial officer.
Kakoullis will succeed Stephen Daintith in May, joining a company that according to The Times of London, “is subject to growing speculation that it will need a taxpayer bailout.”
Rolls believes its cost-cutting efforts and liquidity of 9 billion pounds will see it through the crisis but as Reuters reports, it faces what CEO Warren East has called a “pinch point” toward the end of 2021 when 3.2 billion pounds of debt comes due.
“I am very excited to be joining Rolls-Royce at such a pivotal time,” Kakoullis said in a news release.
The Times noted that Kakoullis has “no experience of a top job at a publicly-listed company” but his assignments at Deloitte “included being the lead auditor of Tesco when the firm won the contract after the sacking of PwC after the supermarket group’s accounting scandal.”
“Panos delivered significant transformational change at Deloitte, streamlining and simplifying the business and we look forward to benefitting from his expertise and experience as we deliver on our fundamental reorganization and secure a sustainable and prosperous future for Rolls-Royce,” East said.
After joining Deloitte as a partner in 1999, Kakoullis became a managing director in 2015. He left the accountancy giant in 2019 after being passed over for the top job and since then had been working for innovation and strategy consultancy PA Consulting.
Daintith, who resigned last year after being poached by online retailer group Ocado, will leave Rolls-Royce on March 19, with Ben Fidler, currently acting deputy CFO, stepping in as interim CFO until Kakoullis arrives.
“We suspect the market might have been more immediately reassured by a familiar name, one with corporate experience, but it is hard to question Mr. Kakoullis’s experience, technical credentials, and knowledge of driving the adoption of AI and advanced analytics,” Jefferies analyst Sandy Morris said.
Rolls is a key supplier to Britain’s military programs, invests heavily in research and development and helps sustain smaller suppliers.