Intel CEO Otellini to take early retirement

Intel CEO Paul Otellini has unexpectedly announced that he intends to retire, three years before the mandatory age.

He’s been with the company for 40 years, and CEO for seven, but says he plans to go in May.

“I’ve been privileged to lead one of the world’s greatest companies. After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it’s time to move on and transfer Intel’s helm to a new generation of leadership,” says Otellini.

“I look forward to working with Andy, the board and the management team during the six-month transition period, and to being available as an advisor to management after retiring as CEO.”

Otellini’s regarded as having done a lot of things right during his time at the helm – cutting costs, increasing sales and introducing new manufacturing technology. Oh, and Intel says he also ‘reinvented the PC with Ultrabook devices’.

But the company faces problems in the future, most notably in the ever-expanding mobile arena, where it’s made slow progress so far.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of speculation as to who might succeed Ottelini. Sean Maloney, executive vice president of Intel’s architecture group, announced plans to retire earlier this year, following a stroke in 2010.

Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer and now head of worldwide manufacturing is a favorite, as are chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy Stacy Smith and software head Renee James.

And it’s pretty likely that Otellini’s successor will come from within Intel’s ranks, as the post’s never gone to an outsider before – although the board says it is considering external candidates this time.

“Paul Otellini has been a very strong leader, only the fifth CEO in the company’s great 45-year history, and one who has managed the company through challenging times and market transitions,” says chairman of the board Andy Bryant.

“The board is grateful for his innumerable contributions to the company and his distinguished tenure as CEO over the last eight years.”