Qualcomm has named chief operating officer Steve Mollenkopf as the successor to chief executive and president Paul Jacobs.
The promotion, announced Friday, comes hours after a Bloomberg report suggested that Microsoft was considering Mollenkopf as a replacement for its chief executive Steve Ballmer.
The move is widely seen by industry analysts as an attempt by Qualcomm to keep Mollenkopf from leaving the company. Jacobs is the son of Irwin Jacobs one of Qualcomm’s founders.
"Obviously Paul is still a very young man, so (this is) not something that many of us were expecting but something that has likely been in the works for some time," Williams Financial Group analyst Cody Acree told Reuters, adding "I think the consideration of Microsoft of Mollenkopf may have prompted a bit of a speedier announcement.”
Mollenkopf, 44, will take the reins on March 4, immediately following the company’s annual shareholder meeting. The engineer has worked for the company for nearly 20 years and led Qualcomm’s $3.1 million acquisition of radio frequency chipmaker Atheros Communications in 2011, its biggest acquisition.
Jacobs, who replaced his father Irwin as Qualcomm chief executive in 2005, will serve as executive chairman and focus on developing new technology and long term business opportunities, the company said.
Under his nearly nine-year leadership Qualcomm’s share price has more than doubled and earnings have tripled, the company added.