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Intel names Robert Swan as permanent CEO

Key Points
  • Bob Swan, 58, has been interim CEO for seven months and chief financial officer since 2016.
  • He was also elected to the company's board of directors.
  • Todd Underwood, currently vice president of finance, will take over as interim CFO while the company searches for a permanent CFO.
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Intel names Robert Swan permanent CEO

Intel's stock slid Thursday after the chipmaker named interim CEO Robert Swan to the position permanently, ending a months-long search following the ouster of Brian Krzanich for what it called a "consensual relationship" with an employee.

Swan, 58, has been interim CEO for seven months and chief financial officer since 2016. He was also elected to the board, the company said. Several media outlets including Bloomberg previously reported Swan didn't want the job.

Shares of Intel fell roughly as much as 3 percent in Thursday, before paring losses to close less than 1 percent down.

In a brief interview with CNBC's Jon Fortt after the announcement, Swan said he wasn't initially interested in the job, but two things changed.

"I went from loving my day job to loving the company," Swan told Fortt. "The second thing: I was asked."

Shareholders will be watching for Swan to continue diversifying Intel's portfolio outside of the PC.

The appointment marks Intel's seventh CEO in 50 years. Krzanich resigned as CEO and from the board in June.

Todd Underwood, currently vice president of finance, will take over as interim CFO while the company searches for a permanent CFO.

Swan told CNBC last week that the board would take its time making a selection.

"Our input to the board is, take the time necessary to get somebody great and in the meantime we have a wonderful management team and 107,000 committed employees that are extremely focused on delivering for our customers," Swan said then. "So we're going to be just fine in the interim but I do expect and hope that in the near term, I don't want to put a time frame on it, but on the near term, we'll have a wonderful new CEO."

CNBC's David Faber reported Thursday that Intel was "far down the road" to name another candidate as CEO, but the selection didn't work out. Swan never thought he was in the running and was offered the permanent position after the company's earnings report last week, and after the other candidate fell through, Faber reported.

Analysts and media outlets speculated early on about about several external candidates, including two female executives who had left Intel relatively recently: former data center group head Diane Bryant and former president Renee James. Bryant's successor, executive vice president Navin Shenoy, was also thought to be a contender, along with Lisa Su, CEO of Intel rival AMD, and Sanjay Jha, who stepped down as CEO of chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries earlier this year.

The New York Times reported that Intel product executive Venkata Renduchintala was under consideration. Axios and The New York Times also reported that Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji was also looked at for the job.

"The search committee conducted a comprehensive evaluation of a wide range of internal and external candidates to identify the right leader at this critical juncture in Intel's evolution. We considered many outstanding executives and we concluded the best choice is Bob," Board Chairman Andy Bryant said in a statement. "Important in the board's decision was the outstanding job Bob did as interim CEO for the past seven months, as reflected in Intel's outstanding results in 2018."

Intel last week reported fourth quarter results beat expectations on earnings but fell short on revenue.

Under Krzanich, who took over from Paul Otellini in May 2013, Intel shrunk the percentage of revenue focused on PCs by 12 percentage points. At the same time, it raised the mix of revenue from data center products by 11 percentage points, filings show.

The company also acquired companies with an eye toward diversifying, including artificial intelligence chip company Nervana, programmable chip company Altera and car chip company Mobileye. Krzanich's Intel explored wearables with the help of acquisitions like fitness watch maker Basis Science but ultimately ended up moving away from wearables and closed its New Devices Group.

Swan said in an email to employees Thursday that the company will continue to evolve "from a PC-centric to a data-centric company."

—CNBC's Lauren Feiner contributed to this report.

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Here's Intel's full announcement:

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) today announced that its board of directors has named Robert (Bob) Swan as chief executive officer. Swan, 58, who has been serving as Intel's interim CEO for seven months and as chief financial officer since 2016, is the seventh CEO in Intel's 50-year history. Swan has also been elected to Intel's board of directors.

Todd Underwood, vice president of Finance and director of Intel's Corporate Planning and Reporting, will assume the role of interim chief financial officer as the company undertakes an internal and external search for a permanent CFO.

"As Intel continues to transform its business to capture more of a large and expanding opportunity that includes the data center, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving, while continuing to get value from the PC business, the board concluded after a thorough search that Bob is the right leader to drive Intel into its next era of growth," said Chairman Andy Bryant. "The search committee conducted a comprehensive evaluation of a wide range of internal and external candidates to identify the right leader at this critical juncture in Intel's evolution. We considered many outstanding executives and we concluded the best choice is Bob. Important in the board's decision was the outstanding job Bob did as interim CEO for the past seven months, as reflected in Intel's outstanding results in 2018. Bob's performance, his knowledge of the business, his command of our growth strategy, and the respect he has earned from our customers, our owners, and his colleagues confirmed he is the right executive to lead Intel."

"In my role as interim CEO, I've developed an even deeper understanding of Intel's opportunities and challenges, our people and our customers," Swan said. "When I was first named interim CEO, I was immediately focused on running the company and working with our customers. When the board approached me to take on the role permanently, I jumped at the chance to lead this special company. This is an exciting time for Intel: 2018 was an outstanding year and we are in the midst of transforming the company to pursue our biggest market opportunity ever. I'm honored to have the chance to continue working alongside our board, our leadership team, and our more than 107,000 superb employees as we take the company forward."

Swan is a proven leader with a strong track record of success both within and outside Intel. As interim CEO, Swan has managed the company's operations in close collaboration with Intel's senior leadership team. Swan has been Intel's CFO since October 2016. In this role, he led the global finance, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, IT and corporate strategy organizations. Prior to joining Intel, Swan served as an operating partner at General Atlantic LLC and served on Applied Materials' board of directors. He previously spent nine years as CFO of eBay Inc., where he is currently a director. Earlier in his career, he was CFO of Electronic Data Systems Corp. and TRW Inc. He also served as CFO, COO and CEO of Webvan Group Inc., and began his career at General Electric, serving for 15 years in several senior finance roles.