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McDonald’s Controller Moving Up to CFO

The outgoing finance chief, leaving to start a teaching career, helped engineer a revival of the company’s share price over the past two years.
Stephen TaubNovember 13, 2007

McDonald’s has promoted Peter Bensen to executive vice president and CFO, effective January 1. The 11-year company veteran, currently senior vice president and corporate controller, will succeed Matthew Paull, who this summer announced he would retire to pursue a college-teaching career.

Paull is credited with helping to turn around the fast-food monolith. Just two years ago, the company was in the cross-hairs of activist hedge fund manager William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital. The company agreed to implement several of Ackerman’s recommendations and expanded its menu, salad offerings, and hours.

Today, McDonald’s stock is trading in the mid-$50s, just off its all-time high of $59.92, hit last week before the market in general sold off. Significantly, the shares are up 75 percent from when Ackman went public with his stake about two years ago.

Bensen, who began his career at the Chicago office of Ernst and Young, joined McDonald’s as staff director in the Financial Reporting Group. He was subsequently promoted to senior director; corporate vice president and assistant controller; and senior vice president and corporate controller.

Paull spent 14 years at McDonald’s, serving as CFO since 2001. He plans to teach part time at the undergraduate level in international business, economics, or finance at a university in San Diego. He’ll also continue to serve on the board of Best Buy Co.

At one time, Paull actually taught tax and finance at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. He said he “fell in love” with the job but “couldn’t support the lifestyle that I enjoy on a teacher’s salary.” He also performed teacher training while at McDonald’s.

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