Rupert Soames steps down as Serco chief exec – after earning more than £30m in just eight years at the helm

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Awards: Rupert Soames has earned more than £30 million in his eight years as CEO of Serco.

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Rupert Soames steps down as chief executive of Serco after earning over £30m in his eight years at the helm.

The 63-year-old grandson of Sir Winston Churchill is credited with changing the fortunes of the outsourcing giant, which was mired in scandal when it took office in 2014.

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But Serco has also come under fire lately because of the profits it has made from running testing and tracking centers during the pandemic.

Soames said it was a “privilege” for me to run Serco and joked, “It’s time for me to outsource myself.” Stock fell 6.8%, or 12.2 pence, to 168 pence after the announcement.

Soames will retire at the end of this year but will remain as an advisor until leaving the company in September 2023.

Serco employs 25,000 people in the UK and 55,000 people worldwide, operating in the US and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Middle East, as well as continental Europe.

In Britain, his work includes transporting prisoners and running six prisons, as well as running immigration detention centers and a London bike-sharing scheme.

As a result of the prisoner-marking contract scandal in 2013 – before Soames joined – Serco paid out £68.5m to taxpayers. He billed the government for flagging those who either died, were in prison, or left the country.

Serco later also paid another £23m in fines and legal fees following an investigation into the episode by the Serious Fraud Office.

More recently, his profits have been boosted by paying over £600 million for his work on the much-criticized Test and Trace programs.

This drew a rebuke from Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, who last year called it “outrageous” that Serco was resuming shareholder payouts based on those earnings.

Antarctic Expedition: Australian icebreaking research supply vessel RSV Nuyina operated by Serco.

Antarctic mission: Australian icebreaking research supply vessel RSV Nuyina operated by Serco.

Soames has received a total of £28.1m since becoming chief executive and could earn up to £4.2m this year if he delivers on his targets.

He will also continue to receive part of his base salary of £850,000 and an annual bonus until 2023, until 12 months’ notice.

Serco chairman John Rishton said Soames “should be proud of what he has achieved”. He added: “Serko is unrecognisable from the business he joined in 2014.

“Under his leadership, the business stabilized and a clear strategy was developed and implemented, resulting in the strong and successful business it is today.”

According to a company spokesman, Soames said he would not hold any other management positions.

Australian Mark Irwin, head of Serco’s UK and Europe division, will take over as chief executive officer.

Analysts at Liberum say some investors will be “inevitably disappointed” by the departure, but Irvin, 57, was a “reliable pair of hands.”

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