McDonald's Corp CEO Charlie Bell, who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in May, resigned to focus on his battle with the disease, forcing the company to make a sudden leadership switch for the second time in seven months.
The fast food giant named vice chairman Jim Skinner as its new CEO, and the board elected Mike Roberts, CEO of McDonald's USA, to the position of president and chief operating officer.
"Charlie is a remarkable leader and well loved by the McDonald's family, and we fully understand and respect his decision," company chairman Andrew McKenna said in a statement Monday.
Bell, 44, was diagnosed with cancer soon after succeeding Jim Cantalupo in April, when Cantalupo died of an apparent heart attack. Bell has missed significant time at work because of the cancer and earlier this month skipped a gathering of worldwide McDonald's managers in his native Sydney, Australia.
Bell rose through the ranks at McDonald's, starting at a Sydney restaurant when he was 15 in 1975, becoming the youngest store manager in Australia by the age of 19.
Under Cantalupo and Bell, McDonald's has staged a rebound in sales the past two years as the company slowed the pace of new store openings, added popular new salads and breakfast items to its menus and shed noncore parts of its business.
One analyst said the change in leadership likely would have no major impact on the company's stock because current McDonald's executives are replacing Bell and the company has been doing well.
"Because this was an internal promotion, I think it's basically status quo," said Jerry McVety, president of McVety & Associates in Farmington Hills, Michigan. "I don't see any real philosophical changes."
The executives succeeding Bell bring years of experience with McDonald's to their new jobs.
Skinner began has career with McDonald's in 1971 as a restaurant manager trainee in the Chicago suburb of Carpentersville and Roberts started in 1977 as a regional purchasing manager.