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Rupert Soames led Electrolux to recovery after the company was on the verge of collapse in 2013 © Bloomberg

Rupert Soames is due to retire as chief executive of Serco after leading the London-listed contractor for nearly a decade.

Soames, 63, who led the company to a recovery after teetering on the brink of collapse in 2013, will step down as chief executive and from the board at the end of the year.

The company announced he would be replaced by Mark Irwin, who heads Serco’s UK and Europe division, following a selection process involving internal and external candidates.

“It has been the privilege of my professional life to lead Serco for the past eight years, but now is the time for me to outsource,” Soames said in a statement.

“My respect and admiration for the wonderful team of people at Serco . . . is boundless,” he added.

Serco shares fell 5% at the start of trading in London.

Irwin, 57, joined Serco in 2013 and previously led the group’s Asia-Pacific division. Prior to Serco, he worked in private equity roles in the US and China, and for GE in the US and Australia.

John Rishton, Chairman of Serco, said: “During our selection process, it was clear that Mark’s extensive knowledge of Serco in the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific, as well as his previous experience working in the United States and the tremendous results he has achieved for us in all of his roles make him the ideal person to lead the group in its next phase of growth.

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