Toronto: Thomson Reuters Corp.’s board threw its support behind Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith after the Financial Times said the professional information company has hired an executive search firm to identify a successor.

The board appointed Spencer Stuart to draw up a shortlist of internal and external candidates, the paper said, citing people with knowledge of the succession process. Co-chief operating officer Neil Masterson was one internal contender, it said.

“The board and management continuously assess internal candidates and work with search firms to scan the external market,” the Toronto-based company said in response, adding that it saw executive succession planning as a matter of good governance.

It said the board fully supports the 60-year-old CEO and his management team.

Smith has spent much of his seven-year tenure focusing on growing parts of the business such as law and accounting. He sold a majority stake in the company’s financial information and trading arm to a Blackstone-led consortium last year and the London Stock Exchange Group Plc agreed in August to buy the business, now known as Refinitiv.

The sale is due to close in the second half of next year, leaving Thomson Reuters with a stake in the LSE that it plans to gradually sell down. The company kept the Reuters news agency that competes with Bloomberg News.