WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) has approved a senior leadership executive succession plan, including Susan M. Cameron, currently RAI’s president and CEO, who will become executive chairman of the board of directors on Jan. 1. She will serve as executive chairman until May of next year, at which time she is expected to become the non-executive chairman.
Cameron was named CEO of RAI at the time the company was formed in 2004. She retired from the company in 2011, but returned as CEO in 2014. During her time as CEO, RAI made several acquisitions, including Lorillard Inc., American Snuff Co. LLC and Niconovum AB.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to continue to be involved in RAI’s future successes from the vantage point of the board chair,” Cameron said. “I remain committed to working with Debra and the other members of RAI’s leadership team to ensure that this succession is smooth and successful. The employees of Reynolds American and its operating companies are the best in our industry and one of the company’s strongest assets. I want to help ensure that they are successful in continuing to grow our businesses.”
RAI also announced Debra A. Crew, currently president and chief operating officer of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., RAI’s largest subsidiary, has been named president- and CEO-elect of RAI, and will become president and CEO of RAI on Jan. 1. She will also become a member of the RAI board when she becomes CEO.
“Debra very quickly mastered the details and dynamics of our industry since joining R.J. Reynolds two years ago,” Cameron said. “She has played a critical role in the very successful integration of Newport into R.J. Reynolds’ brand portfolio and operations footprint, and has helped drive innovation throughout our businesses. These accomplishments, together with her 20 years of experience and leadership in consumer products companies, make her the ideal fit to lead RAI and its companies at this inflection point in their histories,” she said.
The company also announced that Joseph P. Fragnito, former president of the U.S. beverages and snack nuts business unit of the Kraft Heinz Co., will join R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. as president and chief commercial officer on Oct. 24. He is a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for five years, rising to the rank of captain.
“We’re excited to welcome Joe to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco,” commented Crew. “His 16 years of experience as a brand marketer and innovator will enable him to hit the ground running. He understands consumer packaged goods, has a strong track record of bringing brand innovations to market, and knows how to run effective, efficient business units. It will be great to have his experience and expertise on our leadership team.”
In an Oct. 19 research note, Cowen and Co. issued a positive “outperform” rating on RAI’s stock, saying the senior leadership moves should be beneficial to the tobacco company.
“Crew's broader CPG [consumer packaged goods] experience should prove beneficial to RAI, as the organization continues to transition its business to a transformed tobacco model, which differentiated skill set will be augmented by the addition of Fragnito,” the Wall Street firm wrote.
Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American Inc. is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., American Snuff Co. LLC, Niconovum USA Inc., Niconovum AB and R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.