PPD, the US-based contract research organisation (CRO) that has been the subject of takeover speculation over the summer months, has appointed Raymond Hill as its new chief executive officer (CEO), filling a position left vacant since mid-May.

Hill comes to PPD from IMS Health, where he spent eight years and was most recently president of IMS Consulting Group.

During that period, Hill oversaw a strategy of “aggressive organic and acquisition-based growth”, helping to push up annual revenues five-fold over seven years and to transform IMS from its data and market-research roots into a leader in pharmaceutical consulting, PPD said.

PPD’s previous CEO, David Grange, retired on 18 May after holding the post since mid-2009. Since then, Fred Eshelman has been filling in at the helm as executive chairman.

Parrying speculation

Eshelman has been parrying speculation that the CRO is up for sale since July, when PPD launched a review of its strategic planning and capital structure to see whether more value could be unlocked for shareholders.

Eshelman insisted at the time that the company was “not engaged in any discussions around a combination with other clinical research providers”.

However, that did not rule out private equity interests and in mid-August it was reported that Carlyle Group was at the head of the queue, with the possibility of enlisting other private equity firms in a bid for PPD.  Speculation about Carlyle and PPD has cooled somewhat in recent weeks, though.

Before joining IMS Health, Hill was senior vice president for Acumen Sciences Limited. He previously held a number of positions during an eight-year stint at A T Kearney Ltd, including global head of the pharmaceuticals and health care practice.

“With more than 20 years of experience in the life sciences arena, Ray brings keen strategic acumen as a proven leader who has grown global client services businesses in the pharmaceutical industry,” Eshelman commented.