UPDATE 1-UK's Smiths Group appoints former 3M executive as new CEO

(Adds details of new CEO, company comments, and background)

May 25 (Reuters) - Britain’s Smiths Group Plc said on Tuesday it has appointed Paul Keel as its new chief executive officer as the technology company braces for a next growth phase following a long-sought separation of its medical unit.

The company, whose baggage-screening kit and explosive detectors are a common sight at airports, said current CEO Andy Reynolds Smith will step down with immediate effect, and that the change has been mutually agreed to provide new leadership as Smiths enters its next “growth phase”.

Keel, who was previously with 3M Company between 2004 and 2020, will join as the CEO immediately, Smiths Group said, adding that Reynolds will be available until the end of the fiscal year for a smooth handover.

The 170-year-old company has been restructuring its business, which also included a plan to separate its medical unit, Smiths Medical.

The company’s five divisions deliver engineering and medical solutions, and it was also involved in making ventilators for Britain and supplying syringes and needles for vaccines all through the coronavirus crisis.

The company has earlier said that it expects to meet market expectations for the fiscal year.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Sherry Jacob-Phillips