BORD Gais boss John Mullins will definitely leave the company at the end of the year, it has been confirmed.
Mr Mullins had originally planned to step down when his contract expires at the end of 2012, but there had been suggestions he would stay on into 2013.
Now, however, the board has accepted that the chief executive will definitely exit the company. At a board meeting on Tuesday, the directors formally began the process of finding a replacement for Mr Mullins. Headhunters will be appointed in the coming days.
Company chairman Rose Hynes said the firm was disappointed to see Mr Mullins leave.
"John Mullins has been an exceptional chief executive who has transformed the company over the past five years," she said. "The board wishes John every success in his future career," she added.
Despite the success of Mr Mullins as CEO -- the company has been transformed as it moved into an open market -- he was known to feel the end of this year would be a natural break point.
Bord Gais has won the contract to take over the water utility, and it was likely the cost of setting up that business and the installation of controversial water meters would be an undertaking that would need a long-term boss in place at the head of the company.