Microsoft Corp said on Friday that chief executive officer Steve Ballmer would retire within the next 12 months, once it has selected a successor, sending its shares up almost 9%.
Ballmer said in a statement that he would have timed his retirement in the middle of Microsoft's announced
transformation to a devices and services company. "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said. "My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."
Ballmer, 57, will continue as CEO "and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most," said a statement from the Redmond, Washington, company.
The software company said its board had appointed a special committee to direct the process of appointing a new CEO.
The committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board's lead independent director, and includes Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates, as well as other board members Chuck Noski and Steve Luczo.
It will consider both external and internal candidates and is working with executive recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles International Inc, the firm said.
Microsoft shares rose 8.9% to $35.27 in premarket trading.
Ballmer took over as CEO in 2000 when co-founder Gates stepped down from day-to-day operations. At the time, Microsoft was the undisputed tech sector leader, and the world's largest company in market value.
But, in recent years, Microsoft has struggled as consumers began to transition from desktop and laptop PCs to mobile devices.
While its Windows software is used on the vast majority of personal computers, it has had little impact in the fast-growing segments of tablets and smartphones.
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