NEWSMAKER-Reuters CEO returns to M&A with Thomson deal
LONDON May 15 (Reuters) - Crafting mergers and acquisitions was Tom Glocer's specialty before he joined Reuters RTR.L RTRSY.O 14 years ago; over the past few years, his forte has been cutting costs and streamlining the 156-year-old news and data company.
The 47-year-old American chief executive will be calling on all those skills, as well as his reputed technical savvy, to combine London-based Reuters with Canadian electronic publisher Thomson Corp. TOC.TO.
As part of the agreed deal, the companies have agreed the top job at what would be the world's biggest financial news and information supplier would go to Glocer, the first Reuters CEO not to have worked his way up through the newsroom. For more on the deal, click on [ID:nL15300215]
Glocer was born in New York City, and his career took shape after he received a political science degree from Columbia University and graduated from Yale Law School.
Bruce Golden, a partner at venture capital firm Accel in London who was at Columbia with Glocer and has stayed in touch, said the CEO's strengths go beyond traditional boardroom skills.
"He is intellectually curious and also technology aware," Golden said, adding that Glocer was "consistently in the hunt for cutting-edge technology."
That interest in technology has taken unexpected turns.
Glocer was instrumental in Reuters decision to set up a "news bureau" in Second Life, a virtual world on the Internet. And, like a small but growing number of top executives, he has his own blog (tomglocer.com).
The site carries pictures, video, speeches, musings and cartoons. Among his favourite bands: The Grateful Dead.
Glocer adds that he also likes Bruce Springsteen and Kool & the Gang -- but only their early works.
Glocer may not be a journalist, but he appreciates the access his position as a global media executive brings.
In his fifth-floor office at Reuters Canary Wharf headquarters in London, there are photographs of him with U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.
There's also one of Glocer and Queen Elizabeth, who officially opened the building in 2005, after Reuters moved from Fleet Street, its central London home since 1939.
Glocer's office also displays his many interests. Near the family pictures are racing car models, toy rockets, a football and a baseball. The New York Mets compete with Brazilian football for his attention.
But it was Glocer's work as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer with New York's Davis Polk & Wardwell in America, France and Japan that set him on his trajectory towards Reuters.
His first role was as vice president and deputy counsel for Reuters in America, followed by a spell running the business in Latin America, a region he still keeps a keen eye on.
Within eight years of joining the company, Glocer had been appointed CEO, in July 2001, a year after joining the board and shortly before a global market slump that led to falling revenue and the company's first loss since 1984.
While riding the dot-com boom, Reuters had pushed deeper into financial, technology and media sectors often far removed from its core focus of getting information to clients in financial dealing rooms around the world.
Glocer's strategy was to slash costs, rein in the number of products and focus attention on customer service.
"It was a bit like dieting and training for the Olympics at the same time," he told shareholders at the 2006 annual meeting, describing what the company had gone through.
After the restructuring plan known as "Fast Forward" came "Core Plus", with its emphasis on growth.
In March this year, Glocer had a tailwind of improving revenue figures that showed his strategy was starting to bear fruit.
"Tom is a great business leader. He is a visionary but also a hands-on type. He knows exactly what he is talking about and has the ability to translate vision into reality," said Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of British telecoms company BT Group, who has worked with Glocer.
Reuters share price has fallen around 40 percent under Glocer's watch, but that masks the freefall that was already underway when he took over as CEO.
Between 2000 and early 2003, the shares dived from above 1,600 pence to below 100. They have steadily recovered and on Tuesday were up 3.9 percent at 629 pence.
(Reporters and editors involved in the writing and editing of this report may own Reuters securities and are bound by the Reuters Code of Conduct, which restricts dealing in securities in companies a journalist is reporting on)
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