New Chief Expected to Be Named by Aug. 1

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Burger King's CEO, Bradley D. Blum, has made it official, leaving the fast-food marketer, citing strategic differences with the board, the company said.

Senior management will continue to

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oversee the business until a new CEO is named, according to a statement. The company expects to name a new CEO by Aug. 1.

Mr. Blum did not returned calls and was not in the office this week, although he was expected to be in. He had been with the marketer for 18 months.

Relationship with franchisees
Advertising Age magazine on June 21 first reported that Burger King's private equity owners, led by Texas Pacific Group, were quietly on the hunt for a new CEO. Though the burger chain's sales are improving, Mr. Blum's relationship with franchisees had been contentious. Last month, the company promoted John Chidsey to president of North America from chief financial officer and chief administrative officer. Burger King placed most of its department under Mr. Chidsey's responsibility, including marketing, Mr. Blum's base of expertise.

Burger King is owned by a private equity group with Texas Pacific Group the majority owner, along with Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

The Miami-based chain is expected to post another month of improved sales, although those numbers aren't likely to be strong enough to post a positive fiscal year ended June 30. "In May, domestic year-over-year same-restaurant sales increased by 7.5%, and we expect even more significant gains for June," the statement said.

Up to now, representatives from shareowners and the marketer have been mum on the search for a new CEO. While several candidates have been reviewed, Burger King isn't yet ready to name a successor. As speculation about the search swirled, Paul Clayton, a former Burger King president who was identified as a potential candidate, issued a statement denying his interest in the post.

One executive who has emerged as a lead candidate for the job is Greg Brenneman, a former president and chief operating officer of Continental Airlines. Mr. Brenneman is said to be the shareowner's pick for the job, according to an executive close to the situation. A turnaround consultant who runs a private equity firm called TurnWorks in Woodlands, Texas, Mr. Brenneman is a close friend of Texas Pacific co-founder and partner David Bonderman. The two worked together to turnaround Continental, a move that helped put Texas Pacific on the map.

Mr. Brenneman couldn't be reached for comment and is on vacation, according to his office. Executives from Burger King's shareowner groups declined to comment. Board members did not return calls.

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