LONDON--Grayling has concluded its lengthy search for Michael Murphy's successor by hiring 20-year Edelman veteran Pete Pedersen as the firm's new global CEO.

Pedersen departs his role as global chair of Edelman's technology practice to begin his Grayling role on 1 March.

He arrives at the firm following Murphy's decision to step down as Grayling CEO, revealed by the Holmes Report last year.

Pedersen has played a instrumental role leading Edelman's strong technology growth in recent years, also overseeing the firm's relationship with Microsoft.

 "Pete is a seasoned operator with long experience of winning and handling global accounts, and has built a global technology practice which over the last few years has averaged double digit growth," said Huntsworth CEO Lord Chadlington.

“I’m confident that Pete’s client, technology and management experience will be a great fit with Grayling as it takes the next step towards becoming a global PR business with social media and technology at its core."

Immediate industry reaction was positive. On Twitter, Temasek corporate affairs MD Stephen Forshaw called the hire a good one for Grayling, noting that Pedersen was a "respected leader." Another industry observer noted the hire represented a "coup" for Chadlington.

Grayling parent company Huntsworth also released a pre-close trading update this morning, reporting double-digit improvement on profitability in 2012 thanks to "rigorous action on costs."

The update comes as the UK-listed company continues to find topline growth elusive following the 2008 financial crisis. It reported that revenues remain adversely affected by economic conditions in Europe, which accounts for around 60 percent of group income.

"I am pleased that despite the difficult economy we will deliver  strong profit growth and tight cost control this year," said Huntsworth COO Sally Withey. "With some early signs of more positive economic conditions in some of our markets, we are focusing on growing revenues, winning more  global accounts and leveraging our expertise  and leadership in digital communications into more of our work."

At the end of last year, meanwhile, Huntsworth announced that Michael Birkin has stepped down from the group's board, because of his appointment as CMO at Acer Asia-Pacific. 

During the interim, Maria Amundson, general manager of Edelman's Silicon Valley office, will lead the agency's global tech practice, along with Jonathan Hargreaves, Edelman's European managing director, and Sanjay Nair, head of Edelman's Asia tech practice, according to a spokesperson for the agency.