Atiq Raza, who many believe will be the next CEO at Advanced Micro Devices, was appointed to the new post of co-chief operating officer at the company, while Rich Previte, the current COO and president, has been slated to take over as vice chairman.
The executive shift will likely be seen as good news among investors and analysts. Raza, who is AMD's chief technical officer, is widely regarded as one of the key players who helped turn the company around.
Raza came to the company when it acquired NextGen. At the time, AMD was reeling from the K5, a Pentium clone that found few customers. NextGen's chip became the basis for the K6 processor. Although AMD struggled with manufacturing issues with the K6 in 1997, the chip has been at the heart of AMD's growing market share.
"Atiq is a real sharp guy. He has made a difference in AMD getting its act together on microprocessors," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64. "He brought a tremendous amount of design methodology that was sorely lacking at AMD."
Brookwood further added that Raza was largely credited with turning around NextGen prior to its acquisition.
Some institutional investors, meanwhile, have been clamoring for a change in management. CalPERS, one of the largest institutional holders, last year tried to vote current chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders out of office.
Sanders, according to CalPERS, or California Public Employees' Retirement System, was receiving exorbitant compensation for little performance. Sanders' employment contract runs for close to five more years, but some analysts have speculated that the well-dressed CEO may retire earlier.
Under the shifts, Raza will become co-COO immediately. Then, in 1999, he will become president and COO while Previte takes the title of vice chairman.