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etrials CEO Chip Jennings Steps Down

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Adding to etrials’ ongoing financial woes and a recent flurry of senior management changes, Eugene “Chip” Jennings, CEO at the Morrisville, N.C.-based eClinical company, unexpectedly resigned his post, citing “family reasons.” Jennings was CEO for a little more than a year, replacing John Cline founder and former CEO who resigned in May 2007.

etrials chose its vice president of technology, Chuck Piccirillo, to temporarily replace Jennings as it goes on a “national search” for a new leader. Jennings has agreed to consult during the transition. Piccirillo, who joined the company in November 2007, has held various management positions at Hill-Rom’s HealthCare IT Solutions business, Kodak, Carestream Health and Nova MicroSonics.

The news follows the recent departure of James Clark, who resigned as secretary, treasurer and chief financial officer (CFO) on May 31, 2008. Clark helped the company founder Cline take the company public in 2006. etrials placed corporate controller and vice president of finance Joseph Terpanier, CPA, in the position of CFO as it searches for a permanent replacement.

Robert Brill, the company’s chairman of the board thanked Jennings in a press statement and noted his accomplishments during his short tenure, including a “major transformation” of the company.

“Chip leaves the company with an effective sales management team and revitalized sales force…,” he said.

Speaking about the decision to name Chuck Piccirillo as interim CEO, Brill also complimented Jennings highly.

“To Chip’s credit, he also formed a high-caliber senior management team to execute the growth strategy and implement the re-engineering initiatives across the organization. As a key member of this seasoned executive team, Chuck has spearheaded etrials’ integrated solutions plans… it’s a cornerstone of the company’s strategy to increase market share and capture opportunities in the growing mid-tier market,” he stated.

In November 2007, Jennings put in motion a deep restructuring and organizational plan to span at least three quarters in an attempt to climb its way to profitability. An improvement in the company’s service delivery and customer focus issues were a key priority.

This year, etrials reported a challenging first quarter with a drop in net service revenue to $3.7 million compared with $4.1 million reported in 2007. The company’s profit losses widened with a $2 million net loss for the quarter (or $0.19 per share) compared with a loss of $900,000 during the first quarter of 2007. etrials stated that its drop in revenue was partly due to new project delays, resulting in about $1 million in lost revenue.

In February 2006, etrials reverse merged with CEA Acquisition, a specified purpose acquisition company, changed its name to etrials Worldwide and began trading on the Nasdaq National Market. The merger gave the company a total of $20.5 million in cash.

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