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HS2 chief to take on Rolls-Royce role

Published 10/09/2016

Simon Kirby is to join Rolls-Royce
Simon Kirby is to join Rolls-Royce

The chief executive of the HS2 rail link is leaving to take a senior role at Rolls-Royce, the firm has announced.

Simon Kirby has a reported salary of £750,000 at HS2, Europe's largest infrastructure project, which will link London with the Midlands and northern England.

Rolls-Royce said his chief operating officer role will report to its chief executive and the position was created to take responsibility for transforming the engineering giant across the group.

HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins said: "I am delighted for both Simon and Rolls-Royce that he has been appointed to this position.

"Whilst naturally we will miss his experience and leadership, I also recognise that he is joining a truly great, global company in an industry in which he has previously worked."

Mr Kirby said it had been a "huge honour" to work on the massive rail plan, adding: "I have absolute confidence in their ability to deliver the project and, in doing so, to help transform the way we do things in this country."

Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East said: "His exceptional track record in delivering complex major programmes is highly relevant to Rolls-Royce and will strengthen management capability ahead of a period of significant expansion.

"We are doubling our production of large civil aircraft engines and substantially growing our nuclear division while at the same time driving a transformation programme that will make us a more resilient and cash generative business."

Mr Kirby said he was "hugely proud" to join the group, adding: "Rolls-Royce has built strong positions in global markets and has exceptional prospects for profitable growth.

"The ability to deliver major programmes on time and to budget is essential, and I am looking forward to bringing my experience to bear on these complex challenges and to leading the current programme of industrial transformation."

An opponent of the massive rail scheme said Mr Kirby could not justify his HS2 salary.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said the project was beset by major problems, accusing Mr Kirby of "getting out before the true scale of the mess he has presided over is realised".

Mr Rukin said: "The departure of Simon Kirby will be a serious blow to those who champion HS2, though many of us are at a complete loss to see just exactly what it is he has done to justify his three-quarter of a million pay packet."

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