Covance names a new CEO as it adjusts to life with LabCorp

Covance CEO Deborah Keller

Covance, acquired by LabCorp ($LH) for about $6 billion earlier this year, has picked former head of R&D Deborah Keller to take the reins as CEO Joseph Herring retires.

Keller, who has been at the CRO since 1987, most recently served as the executive vice president in charge of Covance's R&D labs, overseeing the company's more than 6,000 researchers across 18 outposts around the world. Herring, who has been Covance's CEO for more than a decade, will step down at the end of July. Taking his spot, Keller will join the LabCorp executive committee and report to CEO David King.

"Deborah Keller is a talented leader who is well-respected by clients and employees alike, and is the ideal candidate to replace Joe Herring as the next CEO of Covance," King said. "Deb has built Covance's central laboratory and early development services into an industry powerhouse and made exceptional contributions to the growth of Covance during her career."

Meanwhile, Covance is settling into its new identity as part of LabCorp after the pair's merger closed in February. LabCorp, a leader in diagnostic tests, says it's building a company like no other in life sciences, merging its own testing prowess with Covance's share of the drug development market to create an outfit that can support a candidate therapy from its preclinical inception to well past its market debut.

Last quarter, LabCorp posted record revenue, but Covance's sales dipped about 2.7% to $643.7 million, a decline the parent company blamed on unfavorable currency exchange. Net new business came in at $737 million for the CRO, a book-to-bill ratio of 1.15 contributing to a $6.6 billion backlog.

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