Burger King Loses A Key Executive

Steve Wiborg was promoted to chairman of Burger King's North American operations this summer, after the Miami-based chain promoted CFO Daniel Schwartz to the CEO job following the departure of Bernardo Hees. The new job came with an unusual out clause.

That clause, according to Burger King's second quarter financials, gave Wiborg the ability to leave the company anytime from October 20 to the end of this year if he didn't like his new responsibilities.

Wiborg didn't waste any time. Late last month, the former CEO of Heartland Food Corp. told the company that he planned to leave Burger King later this month, according to a recent SEC filing. The chain apparently isn't replacing him. His responsibilities will be given to Alex Macedo, who was given the title of president, North America, after Wiborg got the chairman job.

The departure cannot be considered a good thing for Burger King. Wiborg had been credited for helping to ease relations with franchisees after 3G Capital bought the chain in 2010 at a time when operators were in open revolt. Franchisees thus lose a key advocate at company headquarters.

It also continues a pattern of upheaval with Burger King management that dates back decades. The company has had numerous owners over the years, and a revolving door at CEO that has made changes in the executive ranks all too common. The current changes put control of the company into the hands of a group of young executives, led by Schwartz, who was 32 when he was promoted to CEO this year. "It's just a bunch of young guys over there now," one franchisee said.

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