CBI appoints Soames as new president as it aims to rebound from scandals

 (Marc Schlossman)
(Marc Schlossman)

Business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has appointed Rupert Soames as its new president, as it aims to bounce back from a series of scandals.

Soames will replace Brian McBride, and work with CEO Rain Newton-Smith. He joins a CBI that is aiming to reimagine itself after surviving a vote on its future following a number of scandals that contributed to the exit of former CEO Tony Danker.

The Guardian reported that two different women reported they were raped while working at the group. Reports also claimed that Danker sent a female employee inappropriate messages over more than a year. Former president John Allan, who left that role in 2020, was also accused of inappropriate touching.

Soames is chair of FTSE medical technology manufacturer Smith & Nephew. He also led the turnaround of the outsourcing business Serco during eight years in charge between 2014 and 2022.

Before that, he was boss of support services firm Aggreko before that and has also held senior roles at software company Misys and weighing machine manufacturer Avery Berkel.

Soames is a grandson of Winston Churchill and brother of former MP Nicholas Soames.

He said: "I am pleased and honoured to have been nominated to be the next President of the CBI. After a decade of disruption and distraction due to Brexit, Covid, inflation and labour shortages, 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."

Newton-Smith said: ““Rupert is a fantastic advocate for UK business, and I am delighted to enter the new year working alongside someone with his depth and breadth of experience to 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.”