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COO Ralph Alvarez Makes Surprising Exit Plans At McDonald's

McDonald's COO Ralph Alvarez, considered to be the heir apparent to the CEO seat now occupied by 65-year-old Jim Skinner, caught observers off guard yesterday by resigning, effective at the end of the year, Mike Hughlett reports. The 55-year-old Alvarez cited a pair of bum knees that make it difficult to do the globetrotting necessary in his position. No replacement was named.

"Seven orthopedic surgeries and years of chronic pain culminating in two total knee replacements in the past six months have made me realize it's time to move on," he said in a release.

Alvarez was named to McDonald's board last year, and he has been increasingly visible at the company investor presentations. "Most people thought Ralph was being groomed to take over for Skinner," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Steve West. "He's been an essential part of the team, and he as been there throughout (McDonald's) turnaround," said Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Matthew DiFrisco.



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