(Adds Spencer Stuart declined to comment)
NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp has begun searching for a successor to Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith, who oversaw the sale of a majority stake in the news and information provider's financial-data business to a Blackstone Group Inc-led consortium last year, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
Thomson Reuters enlisted search firm Spencer Stuart to draw up a list of candidates to replace Smith, the newspaper reported, citing four people with knowledge of the succession process. The reported move follows Blackstone's agreement earlier this year to sell the financial-data business, now called Refinitiv, to London Stock Exchange Group for $27 billion.
In a statement, Thomson Reuters said: "The Board of Directors considers succession planning and benchmarking for all key executives a matter of good governance. Hence, the Board and management continuously assess internal candidates and work with search firms to scan the external market."
David Thomson, the company's chairman, said the board "is fully supportive of Jim Smith and his management team. We are aligned on strategy and direction."
Smith said in a memo to employees that he was actively involved in the succession planning process.
"To be clear, I'm not planning to go anywhere soon," Smith said. "Please know that when the time comes to hand over the reins, you will hear it from me."
Spencer Stuart declined to comment. (Reporting by Mike Spector; Editing by Daniel Wallis)