31 Oct 2016
When Sir John Rose stepped down as chief executive of Rolls-Royce in March 2011, the company had been transformed.
The so-called “Lion of Rolls-Royce” had been in charge for 15 years and overseen the expansion of one of Britain’s best-known blue-chip companies into an engineering giant on the world stage.
The firm that had made engines for Spitfires during the second world war had become a £13bn leviathan. Yet, cracks in its carefully crafted corporate image were about to emerge.
Exactly how it started is still unclear, but by December 2012, Rolls-Royce had put itself on red alert. It acknowledged, somewhat opaquely, that it had a problem – and the Serious Fraud Office said it was investigating.
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