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Intel's Andy Bryant gets promoted, in a sense

The chip-maker's longtime CFO is set to become something called Chief Administrative Officer, which sounds like something out of "Office Space" but actually still reports to the CEO.

One tidbit mentioned during Intel's blowout third quarter was the promotion of long-time Chief Financial Officer Andy Bryant to something called "chief administrative officer."

Bryant has been the CFO at Intel for 13 years and will step up to his new title effective immediately, so that Stacy Smith can become CFO in a move planned for some time, said Tom Beermann, an Intel spokesman. The move frees Bryant up from the day-to-day responsibilities of running Intel's finances, which is actually a quite-complicated exercise of making sure Intel's factories are running at optimum capacity in order to keep costs down--the CFO's real job. He'll continue to report to CEO Paul Otellini.

Andy Bryant Intel

Bryant's new role as CAO appears to carry forward many of the same things he's been doing for a while now: he'll be the head of Intel's human resources and IT departments, both of which appear to be busy these days with the latest round of restructurings and layoffs. There's a chance Bryant will be able to work on other projects with the CFO responsibilities on someone else's plate, Beermann said.

I have to wonder if this is Bryant's way of transitioning out of Intel, although Beerman naturally downplayed that line of thinking. Bryant's probably not on the short list to succeed Otellini, as capable a financial manager as he has been over the years. For one, he'd be the first CFO to ascend to the top ranks at Intel, but he's also the same age as Otellini, and Intel has a corporate bylaw that forces CEOs to step down once they turn 65. The name most frequently mentioned as Otellini's successor is current sales head Sean Maloney, at least among reporters over drinks at various IDFs.

Without a doubt, Bryant has been one of the more entertaining CFOs on those monotonous earnings calls four times a year, able to explain the complicated business of making and selling chips like it was running a lemonade stand. Normally, the CFO's role during these calls is to accept congratulations from sycophantic financial analysts or to explain away problems that crept up during the quarter, but Bryant was often good for a laugh as well.