Rob Cotton has stepped down as the chief executive of Manchester-headquartered cyber security group NCC.

The high profile CEO has come under increasing pressure following two profit warnings in December and again last week, which has seen its share price fall.

Today the company’s market cap stands at £339m – a far cry from its peak of around £1bn last year.

In an announcement this morning the company said: “NCC Group plc, the independent global cyber security and risk mitigation expert, announces that Rob Cotton has stepped down as chief executive of the group and as an executive director of the board with immediate effect.

“Brian Tenner, chief financial officer, will take over as interim chief executive and will lead the strategic review, which was announced last week.

“The board expects to update the market no later than the group's year end results, due in July 2017.”

Chairman Paul Mitchell, who’d previously announced he was leaving, said: “Rob has served the group for the last 17 years, steering it through its move to the London Stock Exchange's main market in July 2007, following admission to AIM in July 2004. We would like to thank him for his major contribution and wish him well for the future.”

Debbie Hewitt, senior independent director, will continue to lead the search for the chairman, to replace Paul Mitchell when he steps down at the end of May 2017.

Cotton, who has a small shareholding in NCC, was unavailable for comment although he’s changed his Twitter setting from public to private.

His departure from NCC ends a remarkable 17-year journey at the company, 14 years as CEO.

During that time the keen cyclist took the business from a £10m escrow provider to a highly profitable £200m global leader in cyber security and risk mitigation.

Cotton oversaw a series of acquisitions, led the business onto AIM in 2004, main market in 2008 and last year the business entered the FTSE250 for the first time.

The business now employs over 2,000 people across the group’s 35 global offices but the company’s fortunes dipped  after it  experienced problems in its cyber security division and the loss of a number of key contracts.

In 2015 NCC acquired Dutch cyber security firm Fox IT in a £93.5m deal and Cotton spoke at the time of the need to get “on the front foot” as they also announced they were relocating their headquarters to the XYZ building in Spinningfields.

However, behind the scenes insiders say things were far from straightforward, which has seen NCC’s market cap plummet and led to Cotton’s  departure today.

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