PPD chief executive Grange to retire from the CRO in May

PPD, a clinical research organization based in Wilmington, North Carolina, announced that CEO David Grange will retire in May. The company’s board is already planning a search for a successor and will look for internal candidates as well as external candidates.

PPD (NYSE:PPDI) Chief Executive Officer David Grange will retire from the Wilmington, North Carolina-based clinical research organization, the company announced Tuesday.

Grange’s retirement becomes effective May 18, the date of the company’s annual shareholder meeting. He will also step down from the company’s board of directors. PPD made the announcement after the close of the markets and just before releasing fourth quarter and full year financial results for 2010. The company is scheduled to discuss those results in a conference call Wednesday morning.

Grange joined PPD as CEO in 2009, taking over from former CEO and company founder Fred Eshelman, who assumed a new role as executive chairman of the company. Grange’s tenure included overseeing the spinoff last year of the company’s compound partnering division into a separate company now called Furiex (NASDAQ:FURX).

“2009 proved to be a difficult year for PPD, but we advanced our strategic and financial objectives over the course of 2010,” Grange said in a prepared statement. “With the completion of the spin-off of compound partnering and the many accomplishments and progress we made in 2010, I feel my commitment to the board is now fulfilled.”

PPD said that the company’s board will look both internally and externally for a successor to Grange. After his retirement, Grange will continue to assist the company through a consulting agreement for the rest of 2011. If a new CEO is not found before Grange retires, Eshelman and other members of PPD’s management team will assume the CEO duties.