The US news agency the Associated Press announced Monday that president and chief executive Tom Curley plans to retire this year. The AP said the board of directors has formed a committee headed by Mary Junck, the chairman and chief executive of Lee Enterprises, to search for a successor to Curley. Curley, who turns 64 this year, will stay on until a successor is in place, the AP said in a statement. A former president and publisher of USA Today newspaper, Curley has led the AP, a cooperative which is owned by 1,500 daily US newspapers, since 2003. He has presided over the AP\'s transition into the digital era and difficult negotiations with struggling US newspapers who have been seeking to pay lower rates because of declining print advertising revenue and falling circulation. \"Tom Curley was the perfect leader to guide AP through the roughest times the media industry has ever seen,\" William Dean Singleton, the chairman of the AP board, said. The AP is one of the world\'s four leading news agencies along with AFP, Reuters and Bloomberg.