WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — In 2014, Susan Cameron rejoined Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) as president and CEO for a two-year tenure. With that period drawing to a close, Cameron announced Tuesday she will be staying on to help usher the company through its integration of Lorillard Inc.
The tobacco company's board of directors elected Cameron president and CEO in April 2014 to fill the role vacated by Daniel Delen. With that move, Cameron returned to the company she previously led 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 2013, as CSNews Online previously reported.
The original agreement that brought her back to Winston-Salem was slated to end April 30, but included the option for an extension.
In a news release issued before RAI's first-quarter earnings call Tuesday morning, Cameron said she's agreed to remain with the company "to see through the full integration of the Newport brand into R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. later this year, and complete the succession planning process that we have underway."
RAI and its operating company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. acquired Newport through last year's purchase of Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard. The integration of Lorillard and its leading brand are moving along, Cameron reported during Tuesday's earnings call.
"As we mentioned previously, our operating companies entered the new year with strong momentum and that helped to drive an exceptional first quarter for RAI," she said. "All our operating companies continued to deliver against their strategies, turning in another excellent performance."
Significant positive factors in the quarter included the addition of Newport, higher cigarette and moist snuff volumes combined with higher pricing, and the gain from the divestiture of the Natural American Spirit business outside of the United States, the chief executive explained.
"I am especially pleased with the smooth sailing on the integration of Newport, and this success underscores the transformational nature of our acquisition in June of last year," Cameron said, adding that the brand has made impressive gains in market share and been a driving force behind the accelerated business performance.
"And now another milestone is within sight. We expect Newport manufacturing integration to be completed by the middle of this year, well ahead of the 18-month transition that we initially projected," she shared.
In addition, Newport is more visible at retail across the U.S. as the reset of retail merchandisers is almost complete, according to Cameron.
"As you can imagine, this kind of transition has a lot of moving parts. Our employees have made it look easy, but I can assure you it's been quite an achievement and they've done it while keeping the rest of the business firmly on track," she praised. "Clearly, Newport has brought a new vitality to the business in what continues to be a competitive and dynamic environment."
As for a possible successor to Cameron, Vivien Azer, director and senior research analyst at Cowen and Co., said her firm expects RAI to announce management changes at its November analyst meeting. Debra Crew, president and chief operating officer of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., is expected to be named as successor.
Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston-Salem, 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, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. and RAI Innovations Co. Its brands include Newport, Camel, Pall Mall, Natural American Spirit, Grizzly, VUSE and ZONNIC.