LONDON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet has joined the British research firm thought to have provided the inspiration for 'Q', the character who creates spy gadgets for James Bond.
Tenet has been appointed an independent non-executive director of QinetiQ, the company said on Tuesday.
"I am especially interested in the capacity of the company's technologies to meet a number of the challenges faced by our nations' military and intelligence personnel," Tenet said.
One of the longest serving U.S. spymasters in history, Tenet was CIA director from 1997 to 2004.
He served under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before quitting in June 2004, citing personal reasons.
Critics blamed the CIA during his reign for shortcomings in intelligence gathered in the run-up to war in Iraq and questioned whether more could have been done to predict the September 11 hijackings.
QinetiQ is partly owned by U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group, whose advisers have included former U.S. President George Bush and former British Prime Minister John Major.
Once a secretive part of Britain's Ministry of Defense, the firm was listed on the London Stock Exchange in February.
QinetiQ (LSE: QQ.) is a British defence technology company, made out of the greater part of the government agency DERA when it was split up in June 2001 (with the smaller part forming Dstl). The Chief Executive at inception was the present day Chairman Sir John Chisholm. The CEO is Graham Love.
QinetiQ solves defence and security problems at the leading edge of both the development and application of science and technology. For example, it made the semi-intelligent ultrasound scuba diver detector called Cerberus.
When Defence Minister Lewis Moonie announced that QinetiQ was created, he said that the company would remain a British company, based in the UK. The Ministry of Defence would keep a 'Special Share' in the company, and safeguards would be in place to prevent conflicts of interest. In February 2003, the U.S. private equity firm the Carlyle Group acquired a 33.8% share in the company for £42m. Current ownership is split between the MOD (56%), Carlyle Group (31%) and staff (13%). The Carlyle Group was expected to invest for three to five years, after which a stock exchange float would take place.
As a privatised company, QinetiQ is now one of the largest defence research organisations in the world. While part of DERA, the defence research sites that now form QinetiQ carried out testing, research and development, including the invention of liquid crystal displays, the technology for flat panel speakers, microwave radar, Chobham armour, and thermal imagers. In recent years QinetiQ has also developed software products, especially those for the defence and security industries.
QinetiQ has a long term agreement (25 years) with the Ministry of Defence to manage military ranges. It is a major stakeholder in the UK Defence Technology Centre which place military research contracts on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence.
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