Qinetiq - the defence technology and security specialist with a large facility at Malvern - has reshuffled its top management in a new sign it is planning a market floation later this year.

Sir John Chisholm has been named executive chairman with immediate effect in succession to Dame Pauline Neville-Jones.

Graham Love, formerly chief financial officer, will become chief executive, while Doug Webb has been named chief financial officer.

Dame Pauline has led the board as non-executive chairman since 2002.

During her chairmanship the former Government organisation made its transition to the private sector with the introduction of private capital from the Carlyle Group in 2003, began its expansion into the US, and launched the development of its security business to stand alongside its defence business.

"The group's direction is clear and the company is doing well," she said.

Sir John has been chief executive since the company was formed in 2001.

"I am proud to have played a guiding role in its successful transition from the public sector and the business is now on a solid commercial footing and showing its potential," he said.

"I am confident that the experienced top team now in place is the right one to lead the company forward into the next stage of development.

"As chairman of the company, my principal objective will be to ensure that Qinetiq moves successfully to the next long-term phase of its development as a leading defence and security company."

Sir David Lees, former chairman and chief executive of GKN, Nick Luff, finance director of P&O, and Dr Peter Fellner, former chairman and chef executive of Celltech Group, remain as independent non-executive directors on the board.