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'Now is the right time,' says the chipmaker, to switch leaders, bringing old guard Pat Gelsinger back into the fold.

COURTESY: INTEL CORP - In a surprise move, chip giant Intel Corp announced that Pat Gelsinger (pictured) will replace Bob Swan as the firm's CEO on February 15.

In a surprise move, chip giant Intel Corp announced that Pat Gelsinger would replace Bob Swan as its CEO on Feb. 15.

Gelsinger was a 30-year Intel veteran before leaving to be CEO of cloud software company VMware.

In a brief statement, Intel said, "Today's announcement is unrelated to Intel's 2020 financial performance. Intel expects its fourth-quarter 2020 revenue and EPS (Earnings Per Share) to exceed its prior guidance provided on Oct. 22, 2020. In addition, the company has made strong progress on its 7nm process technology and plans on providing an update when it reports its full fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results as previously scheduled on Jan. 21, 2021."

Gelsinger is a respected CEO and industry veteran who began his career at Intel and has more than four decades of technology and leadership experience.

"Pat is a proven technology leader with a distinguished track record of innovation, talent development, and a deep knowledge of Intel. He will continue a values-based cultural leadership approach with a hyper-focus on operational execution," said Omar Ishrak, independent chairman of the Intel board.

"After careful consideration, 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."

CNBC's David Faber broke the news before the 6 a.m. PST announcement. Intel's stock rose 10% as the markets opened.

Gelsinger has deep roots at Intel, having worked with founders Robert Noyce, once known as "the Mayor of Silicon Valley," Andy Grove, and Gordon "Moore's Law" Moore.

"I am thrilled to rejoin and lead Intel forward at this important time for the company, our industry, and our nation," said Gelsinger. "Having begun my career at Intel and learned at the feet of Grove, Noyce and Moore, it's my privilege and honor to return in this leadership capacity. I have tremendous regard for the company's rich history and powerful technologies that have created the world's digital infrastructure."

At the virtual Consumer Electronics Show this week, Intel pushed chips aimed at Chromebooks and gaming PCs, aware that millions of people are now stuck in front of a screen for work, school and leisure.

Intel is a year behind schedule in rolling out its latest 7-nanometer chip technology. Gelsinger is expected to fix that problem.

"The board and I deeply appreciate Bob Swan for his leadership and significant contributions through this period of transformation for Intel," continued Ishrak. "Under his leadership, Intel has made significant progress on its strategy to transform into a multi-architecture XPU company to capitalize on market shifts and extend Intel's reach into fast-growing markets. Bob has also been instrumental in reenergizing the company's culture to drive better execution of our product and innovation roadmap. He leaves Intel in a strong strategic and financial position, and we thank him for his ongoing guidance as he works with Pat to ensure the leadership transition is seamless."

The release continued, "Gelsinger served as the CEO of VMware since 2012, where he significantly transformed the company into a recognized global leader in cloud infrastructure, enterprise mobility and cybersecurity, almost tripling the company's annual revenues. Prior to joining VMware, Gelsinger was president and chief operating officer of EMC Information Infrastructure Products at EMC, overseeing engineering and operations for information storage, data computing, backup and recovery, RSA security and enterprise solutions. Before joining EMC, he spent 30 years at Intel, becoming the company's first chief technology officer and driving the creation of key industry technologies such as USB and Wi-Fi. He was the architect of the original 80486 processor, led 14 different microprocessor programs and played key roles in the Core and Xeon families."

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