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March 2, 2010 1:37 am

Intel’s executive Maloney suffers stroke

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The co-head of Intel’s core products group, regarded as a potential successor to chief executive Paul Otellini, has suffered a stroke at his home and will take several months’ medical leave.

Intel said on Monday that Sean Maloney was expected to resume his regular duties after a recuperation period thought to last several months. The prognosis for his full recovery was ”excellent,” the company added.

Analysts say the company is grooming Mr Maloney, 53, executive vice-president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, as one of several possible heirs to the 59-year-old Mr Otellini.

Mr Maloney, a public face for the world’s largest chipmaker, a fixture on the business conference circuit and an acknowledged technology expert, had a knack for marketing, said analysts.

”I always thought of him as the heart and soul of Intel marketing,” said Wedbush Morgan analyst Patrick Wang. ”He had such a good grasp of technology and where the market was going. And he knew how to convey the corporate message without sounding too corporate.”

Mr Maloney will be replaced during his leave by Dadi Perlmutter, the other general manager of the Architecture Group.

”He’s two in the box with Dadi Perlmutter, so there shouldn’t be any disruption at all,” said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

While they share the general manager title, Mr Perlmutter’s responsibilities are engineering and design and Mr Maloney focuses on business operations from sales and marketing to investment.

Their group oversees the design and development of the company’s microprocessors, the brains of a computer, found in more than eight out of 10 of the world’s personal computers.

”It was pretty clear that he and Dadi would be running the company together when Otellini steps down,” said Real World Technologies analyst David Kanter.

Mr Maloney’s condition was unlikely to have short-term implications for the company, but the incident could change his career path, said Mr Kanter.

”The bigger question is, long term, is this something that Sean says, ’Maybe I need to slow down? Or maybe I’m not the right person to step up and be CEO,’” he said.

Under company by-laws, Mr Otellini has to retire by the age of 65. But the company’s board can put that to a vote and change the by-laws if needed.

Mr Kanter said that the time horizon to Mr Otellini’s likely retirement was long enough for Intel to firm up a succession plan if need be.

Mr Maloney began work for Intel in Europe in 1982, serving in various managerial positions as well as a stint assisting former chief executive Andrew Grove.

He took the reins of Intel’s mobile division in 2004 and became associated with the company’s wireless Internet efforts, including on its long-range Wimax technology.

Appointed chief sales and marketing manager in 2006, Mr Maloney began his current role six months ago.

Shares of Intel, the world’s numner one chipmaker, were briefly halted in after-hours trade. They resumed trading shortly after the statement and have held steady at around $20.87 in post-session trades on Nasdaq.

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