GLOBAL – Paul Thornton has resigned as a director of Watson Wyatt Worldwide to “pursue other opportunities”, according to a filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said in an 8-K filing at the SEC last night that Thornton – who was senior European partner at Watson Wyatt LLP before it was bought by its US affiliate – advised it of his resignation as a director effective as of January 23.

Thornton was a so-called Class I director with a term of office expiring in 2007. Thornton stepped down as chair of the Groupe Consultatif’s Pensions Committee in December.

A spokesman said Thornton, who’s in his 50’s, was retiring after a “long and illustrious career” with the firm and after having played an instrumental role in the merger. He wouldn’t be going to a competitor. “We wish him well in the future,” the spokesman said.

Thornton is the latest in a series of senior figures that have left the firm since the acquisition, including names such as former Europe head Alan Whalley, and senior consultants Mike Wadsworth, Peter Eerdmans and Brian Hill.

The firm has denied that there is a staff exodus, saying that it hired 40 people for its European investment consulting practice last year alone. And it has pointed to high revenue growth.

Meanwhile, Watson Wyatt has announced a strategic partnership with software firm Quest Analytics. Quest provides tools and data that allow employers to compare health plans based on a combination of access, quality and cost.