Peter Gray is stepping down after nine years at the helm of ICON, the global provider of outsourced development services based in Ireland.

Succeeding Gray as chief executive officer (CEO) with effect from 1 October 2011 will be Ciaran Murray, who has held the position of chief financial officer (CFO) at ICON for the last six years.

Gray has agreed to assume the role of vice chairman to facilitate a smooth transition and “assist the Board in continuing strategic development”, the company said.

His decision to retire came after a total of 14 years with ICON. According to chairman Dr Bruce Given, Gray’s leadership has been “fundamental in establishing ICON as an industry leading company and creating a world-class management team. His contribution to ICON’s growth over the last number of years and to its success cannot be overstated”.

Growth period

Murray, who now joins the ICON board, started with the company in 2005 as CFO and has been a key member of the executive management team during a period of “exceptional growth”, in which ICON’s revenues expanded from US$326 million to US$900 million in 2010 and its staff count from 2,700 to more than 8,000, it noted.

That growth has tailed off somewhat of late. In July, ICON substantially lowered its guidance for

earnings per share in 2011 to accommodate a sharp rise in costs as the

company geared up for new business under its recently announced strategic

alliance with Pfizer.

Direct costs were already 15.3% higher year on year in the three months ended 30 June 2011, and with net revenues only 4.2% ahead at

US$233.0 million, operating income for the second quarter slumped by 39.6% to US$15.5 million.

Central role

In addition to his role as CFO, Murray has been responsible for ICON’s Medical Imaging division and has played a central role in the development of the company’s strategic plan, it said.

With Murray’s promotion to CEO, Brendan Brennan, currently senior vice president of corporate finance, will be appointed acting CFO and Diarmaid Cunningham, general counsel, will take on the additional role of company secretary at ICON.