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McDonald's appoints new CEO for German division-source

FRANKFURT, Oct 10 (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp has appointed a new head of its German operations, a person familiar with the matter said, as the world's largest restaurant chain grapples with a downturn in consumer spending in Europe.

Holger Beeck, 54, currently chief operating officer, will take over at the end of November from Bane Knezevic, who is stepping down from the chief executive role after eight years at his own request. Knezevic, 48, will remain active within McDonald's, the person said on Thursday.

Germany is McDonald's fourth-largest market with 3.2 billion euros ($4.3 billion) of sales. But performance has been weak in recent quarters, with the company losing ground to rivals such as Burger King Worldwide Inc.

Net sales in Germany rose 1.6 percent last year, the slowest growth since 2004. Same-store sales, which strip out new openings, dropped 0.2 percent in 2012, according to data from trade magazine Food Service, against a 5.4 percent gain for Burger King.

Beeck has worked for McDonald's for almost 30 years and oversaw the complete refurbishment of stores in Germany and the introduction of the McCafe coffee shops, of which there are now 830 in the country.

McDonald's Germany, the country's largest fast-food chain with around 1,440 restaurants serving more than 2.7 million people a day, declined to comment.