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New president Soames says CBI ‘still needed’

Rupert Soames: privilege

Rupert Soames is to become the next president of the CBI in a move signalling the trade group’s determination to rebuild its standing following the misbehaviour scandal earlier this year.

Mr Soames will work with the current president Brian McBride to ensure a smooth transition early in the New Year.

As with previous appointments, and in line with the CBI’s Royal Charter, Mr Soames will be elected by members at the AGM in June 2024.  

He is one of the longest-serving public company CEOs in the UK – including 11 years at Glasgow-based Aggreko and nine years at Serco which ran and renewed the Caledonian Sleeper. He is currently serving as chairman of FTSE medical technology manufacturer Smith & Nephew.

Mr Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill, said he was honoured to take on the role after “a decade of disruption and distraction due to Brexit, Covid, inflation and labour shortages” but made no mention of the misbehaviour scandal that led to the departure of the previous director-general and the sacking of some members of staff.

Some members resigned and the government suspended talks involving the CBI, raising questions about its long-term viability.

It has shown a determination to continue playing a role in the business and economic life of the nation and recently staged a successful annual conference attended by senior politicians.

Mr Soames added: “Business and government need to work closely together to deliver a prosperous future where economic growth will lift living standards and sustainably fund the UK’s vital public services.  

“The CBI is needed more now than at almost any time in its history, and it will be a privilege to lead the organisation in the coming years.”

Outgoing president Mr McBride said: “With the CBI back influencing at the highest levels across the UK again, there is no better person to pass the baton to. Rupert’s track record as one of the UK’s longest serving and most successful CEO’s makes him the ideal choice.”

CBI chief executive Rain Newton-Smith described Mr Soames as “a fantastic advocate for UK business”, and said he would “ensure the CBI delivers a strong voice for our members, trade associations and for the UK business community.

“As we head into 2024, leadership from business is vital in delivering sustainable growth and a positive vision for the UK economy, and I look forward to delivering that together,” she said.

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