Reed Elsevier names Ian Smith as new chief executive

B2B publisher Reed Elsevier has appointed Ian Smith, the former head of construction firm Taylor Woodrow, to succeed Sir Crispin Davis when he steps down as chief executive next year.

Reed Elsevier confirmed this morning that Smith will join the group at the beginning of January to ‘ensure a seamless transition’before Davis, 59, retires in March. The company hired a headhunter in July to assess both internal and external candidates for the job.

Smith has acted as a consultant to private equity groups since he left the chief executive position at Taylor Woodrow in June 2007 following its merger with George Wimpey plc.

His previous roles have included that of chief executive at the General Healthcare Group and European chief of freight management business Exel Group.

Reed Elsevier said he would be paid an annual salary of £900,000 – and also stands to receive a long-term performance-related bonus of three times his salary depending on how well the group performs under his leadership.

Davis – who has been in the job since 1999 – topped up his basic £1.1m salary last year with a £1.3m performance-related bonus, according to the Reed annual report.

In a statement to the City, company chairman Jan Hommen said: ‘Ian Smith is an outstanding business leader who will build on Reed Elsevier’s strong foundations of global leadership positions, a growing digital presence and a dynamic management team.

‘Crispin Davis defined the strategy and transformed the business to make Reed Elsevier one of the leading digital professional information companies in the world. We are greatly in Crispin’s debt and he leaves an impressive record on which to build.”

Smith’s appointment comes as Reed Elsevier looks to dispose of its magazine publishing arm, Reed Business Information, which publishes titles in both the US and the UK including New Scientist, Computer Weekly and Variety.

Reed Elsevier announced in February that the B2B magazines no longer fitted in with the rest of the company, because they were too reliant on advertising.

The planned sale is part of a restructuring programme at the company, which employs 35,000 people, that will see it focus on subscription-based services and events.

But recent reports have suggested that a potential deal has been stalled as a result of the challenging conditions in the financial markets.

Reed Elsevier had hoped to offload the business by the end of the year. Second-round bids were made last month – but the deadline for the next stage of bidding remains unclear.

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