Burger King's chief executive has resigned despite the company being only months away from a stock market listing.
The move by Greg Brenneman, who took up the post in 2004, was a surprise given that a listing on the stock exchange is expected before the end of June.
Brenneman is returning to his private equity background where he specialised in turning around companies.
Brenneman was the 10th chief executive at the company since 1989 and was the most successful of that batch. He has delivered profits growth for eight consecutive quarters.
Succeeding Brenneman is John Chidsey, currently chief financial officer. He will now oversee the expected Initial Public Offering (IPO) that is expected to raise up to $600m.
Brenneman's departure was described by independent analysts in the US as extremely unusual in the run-up to an IPO. Burger King claimed that his departure had been scheduled for some time but this contradicts its earlier statements that said that it was important to keep Brenneman to his contract that expires in August 2007.
The departure alone, however, is not thought likely to derail the planned IPO.
By Andrew Sangster