The chief executive who led Babcock to become a major player in the defence space is set to step down after more than three years in the job.

Archie Bethel, 67, said he had come to the point where retiring was the right thing to do.

He joined the firm 16 years ago and headed up the marine and technology division from 2007.

"It has been an honour and privilege to serve at Babcock and I am proud of what the company has achieved," he said.

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During his time in charge, Mr Bethel helped re-position the company as one of the UK's biggest defence firms.

His efforts helped lift it out of the support services category of the London Stock Exchange and into defence and aerospace.

"Mr Bethel has served as a director of Babcock for the last 16 years having played a major role in seeing the group evolve into a major service provider in defence and other critical infrastructures," said Robin Speakman, an analyst at Shore Capital Markets.

Mr Bethel's departure comes a year after chairman Mike Turner announced he would step down. Mr Turner was replaced by Ruth Cairnie, a Shell and Rolls-Royce veteran.

She paid tribute to Mr Bethel as a "proven and respected leader".

"On behalf of the board, I want to thank Archie for his service to Babcock, during which time he was instrumental in growing Babcock from a small cap to a leading defence business."

Mr Bethel will stay in the role until Babcock can find a new chief executive.

The company's shares fell by as much as 7.6p, or 1.3%, to 595p on Wednesday morning.

Pharmaceuticals giant GSK has seen a surge in sales after continued strong growth of its shingles vaccine, as it embarks on a two-year programme to split the firm in two.

The company said it expects to spend £2.4 billion on the division, which will separate it into one business focused on research and development and another focused on consumer health.

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The announcement came as the drugs giant posted full-year earnings below its consensus and predicted a decline for the current year.

GSK said it is "too soon" to assess the full impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the company, as the firm joined global efforts to develop a vaccine.

The company said production has halted at its packaging site in Tianjin, as a result of the virus which has gripped mainland China for weeks.

GSK said its "first priority" is the welfare of its 3,000 staff in the country and it has excluded the impact of coronavirus from its forecasts for the year ahead.

Chief executive of the business Emma Walmsley said: "Our staff are the priority so we are closely monitoring what is happening.

"We are following advise to stop business travel until at least mid-February and have instructed staff to work from home."

GSK provided the update as it reported a surge in sales thanks to the continued strong growth of its shingles vaccine.

It said that sales of the company's Shingrix vaccine hit £1.8 billion during 2019, with particularly encouraging results in the US.

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Total respiratory sales hit £3.08 billion for the year, with £518 million from Trelegy and £768 million from Nucala.

They also helped GSK record overall sales of £33.8 billion last year, up 10% on a year earlier, with pre-tax profits up 25% to £1.7 billion.

The company said the year ahead is expected to see a 1% to 4% fall in earnings per share - the company's preferred measure.

It added: "This guidance excludes any impact in 2020 from... any potential impact on our business from the coronavirus outbreak."

Marks & Spencer has appointed former Dixons Carphone UK and Ireland chief executive Katie Bickerstaffe as chief strategy and transformation director.

Ms Bickerstaffe - currently a non-executive director at M&S - will start in the new role on April 27.

She replaces former strategy director Melanie Smith, who has moved to head up M&S's joint venture with Ocado.

Ms Bickerstaffe, who was also previously executive chair of SSE Energy Services, will help lead the retailer's push to ramp up turnaround efforts.