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McDonald’s Loses Its COO — an Early Retirement

Jon C. Ogg

McDonald's Corp. (MCD) is announcing a management change. While most investors focus on CEO or Chairman replacements, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) is often the person who is most involved in executing the day to day operations. COOs are considered the CEO's right-hand man (or person).

Now McDonald's is announcing that COO Tim Fenton has decided to retire from McDonald's.

Fenton is 56 years old and this retirement effective date will be October 1, 2014. McDonald's said that Fenton will continue to operate as COO during a brief transition period. Thereafter, Fenton will act as a Special Advisor to CEO Don Thompson to focus on global franchising, restaurant portfolio optimization and other strategic business initiatives.

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This does kick in changes to operations during the transition because McDonald's said that it will not replace the COO role. Instead, the company said that it will broaden responsibilities for two senior leaders.

McDonald's Area of the World presidents, responsible for the operations of McDonald's 35,000 restaurants worldwide, will now report directly to Thompson as follows:

  • Pete Bensen, 51, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will assume oversight for Worldwide Supply Chain, Development and Franchising functions.
  • Steve Easterbrook, 46, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Brand Officer, will assume oversight for the Restaurant Solutions Group; Corporate Strategy; and the Global CSR, Sustainability and Philanthropy department.

The McDonald's board also announced that it has elected Bensen and Easterbrook Senior Executive Vice Presidents.

McDonald's shares were up 0.6% at $96.68 in the final hour of trading against a 52-week range of $92.22 to $103.70.

With a six month transition, this sounds like a normalized event. Still, announcing a retirement at 56 from a major company like McDonald's is not the most routine retirement time. That being said, Fenton has worked for McDonald's since 1973 - some 41 years. Maybe that is long enough after all. Yahoo! Finance showed that Fenton's pay in 2012 was $4.76 million.

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