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UK engineer Smiths names Carter as CEO as half-year profit climbs

By Eva Mathews

(Reuters) -Britain's Smiths Group picked Roland Carter, an insider at the engineering firm, to be its new CEO on Tuesday as it reported a rise half-year profit and announced 100 million pounds ($126 million) of new share buybacks.

Carter, 57, most recently led Smiths Detection, which makes security screening systems, where he increased the after market revenue stream to greater than 50% of sales, Smiths said.

Shares in FTSE 100 index member Smiths, whose baggage-screening kit and explosive detectors are a common sight at airports, climbed as much as 4% to a near four-month high of 1721.5 pence, briefly topping London's blue-chip index.

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Carter, a British national was previously involved with setting up Smith's joint venture in China, which makes electronic parts, subsystems and radio frequency products for sectors such as aviation, railways and telecommunications.

Paul Keel, 54, who is stepping down to become CEO of a U.S. public company, became chief executive of Smiths in 2021. Smiths declined to say which company Keel was joining.

"We are still relatively early in Paul Keel's tenure although the internal promotion suggests no major change in strategy," RBC analysts said in a note.

Smiths, which is more than 170 years old reported a 5.3% organic rise in half-year operating profit to 246 million pounds on strong orders in markets like aerospace, energy and security.

The company, which makes highly engineered seals, filters and electric heating elements used in clean hydrogen, carbon capture, and zero emission steel mill projects among other areas, has benefited from the drive to decarbonise.

Smith said orders were up 16.5% in the six months to Jan. 31, while free cash flow more than doubled to 112 million pounds and it declared an interim dividend of 13.55 pence.

It expects growth to improve in the second-half of the year.

($1 = 0.7906 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Eileen Soreng, Christian Schmollinger and Alexander Smith)