WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) may have a new incoming CEO, but Susan Cameron is not new to the company.
The locally based tobacco company's board of directors elected Cameron president and CEO to fill the role being vacated by Daniel Delen effective May 1. Delen is retiring from RAI and stepping down from its board.
With the move, Cameron is returning to the company she lead as president and CEO from 2004 to 2011. She also served on the board during those seven years; however, she retired from those roles in 2011. Cameron rejoined the board in December.
"Susan's 30 years experience with our companies and her previous service in this role make her an exemplary choice for this key leadership position," said Thomas C. Wajnert, non-executive chairman of RAI's board of directors. "Susan was the architect of RAI's total tobacco strategic direction more than 10 years ago, and we are pleased to have her back with the company to further our vision of transforming tobacco."
Delen, who took over the leadership positions from Cameron in 2011, will continue to consult with the company for two years to ensure a smooth transition, and provide strategic insights and other services to management, according to RAI.
"Under [Delen's] leadership, RAI and its operating companies have demonstrated that their strategic plans to transform tobacco are sound, and their ability to operationally deliver against those strategies are excellent," Wajnert said. "On behalf of the board and RAI's shareholders, I thank him for his leadership and his commitment to providing outstanding returns to our investors. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
The changing of the guard at RAI was met with positive response from the analyst community. According to Bonnie Herzog, managing director of beverage, tobacco and convenience store research, the move could position RAI to acquire Lorillard Inc. It could also signal a potential strategic partnership with British American Tobacco (BAT).
Cameron worked with BAT for 20 years before the merging of R.J. Reynolds Co. and BAT subsidiary Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. in 2004.
"While we are disappointed to see Delen relinquish the CEO role, we feel confident in Cameron's ability to lead RAI into its next generation of growth," Herzog said. "Furthermore, Cameron is a known entity and this change should be broadly viewed as positive."
RAI is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Co., American Snuff Co. LLC, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., Niconovum USA Inc., Niconovum AB and R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.