Banknote printer De La Rue has named a turnround specialist as its new chief executive as it seeks to reorganise its business to deal with a series of setbacks including a Serious Fraud Office investigation.

Clive Vacher joined De La Rue on Monday as the replacement for Martin Sutherland who announced his departure in May following a profit warning.

De La Rue manufactures about a third of the world’s banknotes and employs more than 2,500 people. Last year, it lost the contract to print British passports to a French company, while its May profit warning flagged an £18m charge related to the failure of the Venezuelan central bank to pay its bills.

Shares have fallen almost 50 per cent this year and, since the profit warning, De La Rue has announced changes to its board and disclosed an investigation by the SFO into its business in South Sudan.

De La Rue said Mr Vacher had significant experience of business transformation from 16 years in senior positions at industrial companies, including jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce. He was most recently chief executive of Canadian semiconductor and transistor manufacturer Dynex Power.

Among the challenges Mr Vacher faces is the fact that De La Rue is under pressure from activist shareholder Crystal Amber, which own 6.3 per cent of shares according to FactSet, and has been sharply critical of De La Rue’s previous management.

Richard Bernstein, investment adviser to Crystal Amber, said the fund was meeting Mr Vacher on Tuesday. “We’re pleased to see the back of Martin Sutherland, who we found to have awful commercial judgment,” he added.

De La Rue, which first printed banknotes in Mauritius in 1860, is reorganising into two divisions: authentication, which includes security features and identification, and currency, the banknote printing business.

It has also reorganised its board. Last month, it hired former Micro Focus executive Kevin Loosemore as chairman and on Monday, it announced the early departure of independent director Andy Stevens. Its boardroom changes, it said, are complete.

De La Rue declined to give details of Mr Vacher’s pay. Shareholders rebelled in the summer over a £132,000 payment into Mr Sutherland’s pension — equivalent to 30 per cent of his base salary.

Shares rose just over 1 per cent in morning trading on Monday.

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