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McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook out after 'poor judgment' involving relationship with employee

McDonald’s (MCD) board voted to remove CEO Steve Easterbrook, the fast-food giant announced on Sunday, citing “poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee.”

Chris Kempczinski, the current president of McDonald’s USA, has been named CEO effective immediately. He will also join the board.

“Kempczinski succeeds Steve Easterbrook, who has separated from the Company following the Board's determination that he violated company policy and demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee,” the company said.

Easterbrook, who is divorced, wrote in an email to employees that the consensual relationship “was a mistake.”

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook speaks during a press conference in New York November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

“Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on. Beyond this, I hope you can respect my desire to maintain my privacy,” Easterbrook wrote, according to The Financial Times.

Easterbrook had served as CEO since March 2015. Easterbrook, who is British, joined McDonald's in 1993 as a financial reporting manager based in London. Throughout his career, he served as the global chief brand officer, president of McDonald's Europe, and CEO of McDonald's U.K. He also spent time as a McDonald's restaurant manager. On a now-removed corporate webpage, McDonald’s said Easterbrook led its turnaround "by sparking the evolution of its company culture."

Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

Enrique Hernandez Jr., chairman of McDonald’s board of directors, called new CEO Kempczinski “the best leader to set the vision and drive the plans for the Company’s continued success.”

“He has the right mix of skills and experience to lead us forward having run our U.S. business, where franchisees are delivering strong financial and operational results, and overseen global strategy, business development and innovation,” Hernandez said in a statement. “In particular, Chris was instrumental in the development of the Company's strategic plan, which has enabled global growth and leadership, and has overseen the most comprehensive transformation of the U.S. business in McDonald's history.”

Meanwhile, Joe Erlinger, president of the international operated markets, will take over Kempczinski’s most recent role as president of McDonald's USA, effective immediately.

Shares of McDonald's closed down 1.4%, -$2.76, on Friday to end the week at $193.94.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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