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Drugmaker Elan says its chief will quit in May 2012

IRISH biotechnology firm Elan said its chief executive Kelly Martin will step down in May 2012, following months of disquiet from shareholders.

The news comes just six weeks after the firm’s chairman, Kyle McLaughlin, announced his retirement when 28 per cent of shareholders opposed his re-election.

Elan said it changed Martin’s contract in order to “provide clarity and continuity on the executive leadership of the company”.

Shareholders have voiced concerns over the board, and of Martin in particular, since a botched attempt to sell the company’s drug delivery division in 2008.

Martin will remain as an executive adviser to the board until January 2013, while McLaughlin’s replacement will be announced in September.