BURLINGTON – Veteran CEO and chairman David King is retiring, life science giant LabCorp announced early Wednesday.

King will take on the role as executive chairman of the board on Nov. 1. He is retiring as CEO as of Oct. 31.

Replacing King as CEO is Adam Schechter, a former executive at drug firm Merck. He currently is the lead independent director on the LabCorp  (NYSE: LH) board.

“I am immensely proud of what we have achieved during my nearly two decades at LabCorp, including almost 13 years as CEO,” King said in the retirement announcemented. “I have been privileged to lead an outstanding executive team and nearly 61,000 mission-driven colleagues around the world, whose dedication to improving health and improving lives has made LabCorp a global leader in healthcare.”

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LabCorp is based in Burlington and has significant operations across the Triangle where it is continuing to expand.

“To build on that momentum, the board of directors and I have been engaged for the last several years in a planning process designed to secure the best possible successor to take LabCorp to the next level of achievement,” King explained about the executive change.

“Adam’s experience in global healthcare, demonstrated leadership capabilities and strategic contributions as a board member position him perfectly to succeed me as CEO. He knows our industry, our company, and our strategy, and is uniquely suited to continue to build on the power of our combined organization.”

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King’s retirement comes at a time of rapid, continuing change in the life science industry. He helped engineer a partnership with Walgreens that will lead to lab testing operations in some 600 stores, for example, and Walgreens rival announced its own plans for similar operations on Tuesday.

LabCorp also has been mentioned as a possible takeover target by Walgreens. The company has declined to talk about the talk.

Schechter is very familiar with LabCorp, having served as a board director since 2013. He was named lead director this past January.

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“I am honored to succeed Dave, who is a visionary and highly respected leader,” Schechter said in a statement.

“I am deeply committed to continuing the company’s noble mission and I look forward to strengthening our leadership position in global life sciences as we execute our strategy. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Dave for his remarkable legacy that includes leading LabCorp’s transformation from a pure-play U.S. testing laboratory into a leading global life sciences company. Dave positioned the company as a market leader in both laboratory testing and global drug development, led the company to strong growth over the past decade while navigating significant changes in government healthcare reimbursement policy, and spearheaded the forward-thinking acquisition and integration of Covance. Dave and his leadership team built an outstanding foundation for LabCorp’s continued success and we are deeply grateful.”

LabCorp shares traded at $166.43 on Tuesday and were unchanged in pre-market trading shortly after the announcement.

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King has led LabCorp through a series of acquisitions that greatly expanded the company from its lab testing roots to drug development and related services. The company notes that the firm has tripled in size under King’s leadership and hit $11 billion in revenue last year.

He joined the company in 2001 as senior vice president, general counsel, and chief compliance officer, having previously worked with LabCorp as its primary outside legal counsel.

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