In a highly unusual development, the FTSE 100 engineering firm GKN confirmed on Thursday (16 November) that its chief executive officer designate – Kevin Cummings – would be leaving the company before even starting the role.

What's more Cummings, whose appointment to the top job was announced as recently as September, will now "leave the GKN board" and the company "effective immediately."

He was due to take over from departing CEO Nigel Stein on 1 January, but GKN said it was now looking for "alternative leadership".

Cummings joined the company's aerospace division in North America in 2008, and became head of the global aerospace business in January 2014, before being selected for the top job.

While the development emerged in near tandem with the announcement of a possible £80m to £130m writedown at its North American aerospace unit, a spokesman declined to comment on whether the two were related or that Cummings would be given a payoff for the failed appointment.

According to GKN's filings at the London Stock Exchange, Cummings was paid a basic annual salary of £505,000 last year, rising to £1.38m in benefits and bonuses.

Non-executive director Anne Stevens will become GKN's "interim chief executive" from 1 January, and Stein will continue to run the company in the interim.

In the wake of the news, GKN's share price tanked by nearly 10%. However, at 11:11am GMT the stock had recovered slightly to 292p, still down 6.05%.