Intel is replacing its chief executive after only two years, but it has been a rough stretch for the chipmaker.
Bob Swan, who became the company’s chief executive in early 2019, will be replaced in mid-February by industry veteran Pat Gelsinger.
Shares spiked 8% on news of the change at the top.
The Santa Clara, California, company said on Wednesday that the change in leadership is unrelated to its financial performance last year, but the surprise shakeup followed several weeks of investor activism by hedge fund Third Point, which had pushed for big changes.
Intel acknowledged in late December that it had received a letter from the fund and was working with it on ideas “regarding enhanced shareholder value”.
In mid-2020, Intel disclosed that there would be a substantial delay in its development of a next-generation chipmaking process already in use by a major Taiwan supplier, TSMC.
The unexpected snag meant that Intel’s seven-nanometer processing technology is unlikely to be ready until the end of 2022 or early 2023, potentially putting the company behind its rivals.
Mr Gelsinger has been the chief executive of VMware since 2012 and has more than four decades of experience in the tech industry.
He spent most of that time with Intel Corp, where he began his career and was its first chief technology officer.
Intel chairman Omar Ishrak said in a prepared statement that “the board concluded that now is the right time to make this leadership change to draw on Pat’s technology and engineering expertise during this critical period of transformation at Intel”.
Mr Swan, a former chief financial officer at Intel, assumed interim leadership in 2018 after chief executive Brian Krzanich resigned after the company learned of what it called a past, consensual relationship with an employee.
After a search, Intel confirmed Mr Swan as chief executive in early 2019.