Panos Kakoullis named new CFO of Rolls-Royce

03 March 2021 2 min. read
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Britain’s Rolls-Royce named Panos Kakoullis as its new Chief Financial Officer, as it looks to implement a cost-cutting and simplification programme to cope with the strains of Covid-19. Kakoullis arrives at the engineering giant having previously headed Deloitte’s audit and assurance practice.

Rolls-Royce is a historic engineering company focused on power and propulsion systems. 2020 hit the firm hard due to a fall in demand for its core product of plane engines. The pandemic has shattered Rolls-Royce’s finances because it is paid by airlines on a flying-hours basis. After a "sharp deterioration" in the finances of the civil aerospace sector  because of the pandemic, this left the firm scrambling for emergency funds. As a result, late last year Rolls-Royce launched a funding drive to raise £2 billion from its shareholders through a rights issue.

As the firm looks to further position itself for recovery in 2021, Rolls-Royce has announced the installation of Panos Kakoullis as its new Chief Financial Officer. The professional services veteran steps into the role in May, after his predecessor Stephen Daintith was poached by online retailer group Ocado last year. Until then, Ben Fidler, currently acting Deputy CFO, will be interim CFO for the weeks leading to Kakoullis’s arrival.

Panos Kakoullis, Chief Financial Officer, Rolls-Royce

Chief Executive Warren East said of the appointment, “Panos delivered significant transformational change at Deloitte, streamlining and simplifying the business and we look forward to benefitting from his expertise and experience as we deliver on our fundamental reorganisation.”

Kakoullis has over 30 years industry experience with Deloitte, where he most recently served as Managing Director in the firm’s global audit and assurance business. In 2019, Kakoullis was reportedly part of the race to replace David Sproul as the firm’s North West Europe CEO.

According to sources close to the story, Kakoullis narrowly missed out on the role, due to his close association with the audit side of operations – with the Big Four’s accounting wings having encountered increasing hostility in the UK in the wake of a plethora of scandals through 2018 in particular. He was also connected with potentially replacing Alan Middleton as CEO of PA Consulting, but the move also fell through.

Despite the deepening travel crisis due to new strains of the coronavirus, Rolls-Royce remains confident in its liquidity of £9 billion. In the meantime, it is looking to strengthen its position with a restructuring drive which Kakoullis will be a key part of. The firm is selling assets worth £2 billion and cutting more than £1 billion pounds in costs by offloading 9,000 jobs, closing factories and planning a two week operational shutdown of some units in the summer.