After 11 years in charge of one of the UK rising security stars, the CEO and co-founder of nCipher, Alex van Someren, has announced that he is to quit his post.

From 3 December, the new CEO will be Geoffrey Finlay, once CEO of Kewill Systems and managing director of JDA Software. Van Someren will remain on the board for a year to oversee the beginning of a new era for a company that he started in 1996 with his brother, Nico van Someren, with money from networking billionaire Terry Matthews' Celtic House venture outfit.

Matthews got his money back with interest in 2000, when nCipher went public with a heady face value of £350 million ($700 million). Today, despite a lower stock value, nCipher is considered a UK leader in its field of encryption hardware and management.

"I would like to pay tribute to the major contribution that Alex van Someren has made to the successful development of the company and the Board is grateful to him for agreeing to a period of transition," said one of the company's non-executive directors, Robert Jeens.

Privately, it is known that van Someren has been looking to step away from the relentless grind of managing a listed company for some time, and his departure is no surprise.

Given his youth, and long involvement with computing - he previously ran his own Acorn startup - it is unlikely that van Someren will simply retire to play golf at another of Terry Matthews' projects, the Ryder Cup-hosting Celtic Manor golf complex in Newport, Wales. Inside sources say he will almost certainly return to the industry in some guise after recovering from nCipher.

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