LONDON--Grayling has begun the search for a new CEO after it was disclosed that Michael Murphy is to step down from the role.

Murphy has led Grayling since the firm merged with sister Huntsworth agencies Trimedia and Mmd in 2009. According to Huntsworth CEO Peter Chadlington, he intends to concentrate on building a “portfolio of interests.”

Murphy will assume the position of non-executive chairman during the search for his successor, which will eventually become a part-time role.

“Michael was a central architect of the successful strategy to merge many of our businesses together to form a single brand and attract larger, multi-office clients,” said Chadlington. “And in doing so he has established a distinct culture and work style. Grayling is now established as one of the leading public relations and government relations firms in the world.”

Chadlington added that a new CEO was unlikely to be in place until next year.

Murphy has worked for Chadlington for over 20 years, since selling his Glasgow agency to Shandwick in 1989. He occupied a succession of senior roles at Shandwick before leading Trimedia prior to its merger with Grayling.

Huntsworth has delivered mediocre financial results since its 2009 reorganisation whittled down 26 brands into the four that now exist: Grayling, Citigate, Red and Huntsworth Health. Along the way, a number of senior executives have departed Grayling, as Murphy refashioned the leadership team at the agency.

“I want to continue to support the business, our clients and my colleagues but I also feel that the time is right to develop other interests which play to my many decades of international experience,” said Murphy.