Burger King Hands Crown to CFO

CFO John Chidsey is named the fast-food chain's ninth CEO in 11 years, and perhaps its first as a public company.
Stephen TaubApril 7, 2006

Burger King Corp. — whose parent company, Burger King Holdings Inc., is preparing for an initial public offering — has announced that chairman and chief executive officer Greg Brenneman is leaving the company and will be replaced immediately by the company’s current chief financial officer. Brenneman, who joined Burger King in August 2004, will return to his private-equity firm, TurnWorks, to pursue business turnarounds.

Brenneman will be succeeded by CFO John Chidsey, who becomes the company’s ninth chief executive in 11 years. In addition, Brian Swette, now an independent director, will serve as nonexecutive chairman; senior vice president and treasurer Ben Wells was promoted to CFO and treasurer.

Burger King Holdings, owned by private-equity giants Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs Funds, announced in February that it hopes to raise as much as $400 million in an IPO. The company offered few details, however, and there is no indication just when it plans to go public.

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It is not uncommon for executives brought on by a private-equity group to leave the operating company when it moves to a new stage of development. In a statement, Brenneman said: “As the company enters this important next phase, the board and I discussed the commitment necessary for any CEO in a public environment and my career and family goals. As a result, together we decided that the best time to transition leadership was prior to Burger King’s initial public offering.”

Chidsey has significant experience in the C-suite. Before joining Burger King in March 2004, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of two divisions of Cendant: one including the Avis and Budget car-rental companies and the other including tax preparer Jackson Hewitt. Earlier he served as CFO of two divisions of Pepsico.