INTEL’S executive vice-president Sean Maloney has suffered a stroke at his home and will take several months’ medical leave.
The firm said the senior figure, who is also general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, is expected to make a full recovery.
Analysts believe the company sees Maloney, 53, as the natural successor to 59-year-old chief executive Paul Otellini.
They say the technology expert, who fronts for Intel at business conferences, is an expert in marketing.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Patrick Wang said: “I always thought of him as the heart and soul of Intel marketing.
“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.”
Dadi Perlmutter, the other general manager of the Architecture Group, will replace Maloney during his absence. Shares of Intel, the world’s top computer chip maker, were halted in after-hours trade. They resumed shortly after the statement and have held steady at about $20.87 in post-session trades on Nasdaq.