October 20, 2019 / 10:31 PM / a month ago

Thomson Reuters says engaged in CEO succession planning

FILE PHOTO: Thomson Reuters Chief Executive Jim Smith speaks about the deal with U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, during a staff town hall meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) is engaged in succession planning for Chief Executive Jim Smith as “a matter of good governance,” the business information company said on Sunday.

The company statement here came after the Financial Times reported Thomson Reuters had begun a search for a new chief executive.

David Thomson, the company’s chairman, said the board “is fully supportive of Jim Smith and his management team. We are aligned on strategy and direction.”

Smith said in a memo to employees he was actively involved in the succession planning process.

“To be clear, I’m not planning to go anywhere soon,” Smith said. “Please know that when the time comes to hand over the reins, you will hear it from me.”

The Financial Times cited four unnamed sources as saying Thomson Reuters, which owns the Reuters news agency, had hired search firm Spencer Stuart to put together a list of internal and external candidates. The search was at an early stage, the newspaper said.

In a statement, Thomson Reuters said: “The Board of Directors considers succession planning and benchmarking for all key executives a matter of good governance. Hence, the Board and management continuously assess internal candidates and work with search firms to scan the external market.”

Spencer Stuart declined to comment and a spokesman for Thomson Reuters declined to comment specifically on whether it had engaged Spencer Stuart.

Smith oversaw the sale of a majority stake in the news and information provider’s financial-data business to a Blackstone Group Inc-led (BX.N) consortium last year. Earlier this year, Blackstone agreed to sell the financial-data business, now called Refinitiv, to London Stock Exchange Group (LSE.L) for $27 billion (21 billion pounds).

Reporting by Mike Spector and Peter Henderson; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lincoln Feast.

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