January 15, 2009 / 6:12 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Symantec's Thompson eyed for U.S. post--source

(Adds Obama spokesman’s no comment, background from paragraph 5 to end)

By Patrick Rucker

WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Software company president John Thompson is one of two candidates under consideration to be U.S. commerce secretary, the last vacancy in President-elect Barack Obama’s prospective cabinet, a source familiar with the Obama transition team’s deliberations said.

Thompson is chairman and chief executive office of Symantec Corp SYMC.O, the No. 1 software security company best known to consumers for its Norton product line.

Symantec spokesman Chris Payden said he knew only that Thompson has had talks with the Obama transition team.

“I don’t have any information to share,” Payden said, adding that Thompson was in Washington late last week.

An Obama spokesman declined to comment.

Symantec announced late last year that Thompson, who was among the first Silicon Valley executives to throw his support behind Obama’s bid for the presidency, would step down in early April.

Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, had nominated New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to fill the Commerce post, but Richardson withdrew on Jan. 4 in the face of a legal inquiry.

Richardson, a former Democratic presidential candidate and one of the country’s most prominent Hispanic politicians, denied any wrongdoing in connection with the probe of a California financial company that had done business with the New Mexico state government.

But Richardson said an investigation lasting possibly weeks or even months “would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.”

Business lobbyists have been surprised that it has already been 10 days without any announcement about a replacement for Richardson.

Thompson’s biography on Symantec’s website says he built the company “from a small consumer software publisher to a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions.”

Thompson was a senior executive with IBM Corp. before joining Symantec and has a master’s degree in management science from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

President George W. Bush appointed Thompson to the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee in September 2002 to make recommendations regarding the security of the critical infrastructure of the United States.

Thompson also has served as the chair of the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology to identify and evaluate technology-driven solutions to improve the security and efficiency of national and local aviation.

He serves as a director on the corporate boards of UPS and Seagate Technology, as well as on the board of Teach for America, an organization dedicated to eliminating educational inequities for all children. (Additional reporting by Doug Palmer in Washington and Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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