- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Cantalupo, who orchestrated a turnaround of the fast-food giant after overseeing the proliferation of its restaurants worldwide in the 1980s and ‘90s, died unexpectedly of a heart attack yesterday at age 60.

The company moved quickly to name Mr. Cantalupo’s successors. Charlie Bell, McDonald’s 43-year-old president and chief operating officer, was elected chief executive by the board of directors and will keep the president’s title. Andrew J. McKenna, 74, the board’s presiding director, was named chairman.

Mr. Cantalupo was stricken in Orlando, Fla., where McDonald’s was holding an international franchisees convention. The company said he died at a hospital after suffering the heart attack at his hotel just after 4 a.m.

“Jim was a brilliant man who brought tremendous leadership, energy and passion to his job,” Mr. McKenna said. “He made an indelible mark on McDonald’s system.”

A three-decade veteran of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based hamburger giant, Mr. Cantalupo returned from a brief retirement to assume the top post in January 2003 in a management shake-up. McDonald’s had struggled through more than two years of sagging U.S. sales and had reported its first-ever quarterly loss for the last three months of 2002.

Under his leadership, the company worked to revitalize its brand through new products, a focus on health and a return to the basics — better food and faster service — instead of the expansion he once had championed.

McDonald’s shares fell 71 cents, or 2.6 percent, to close at $26.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mr. Cantalupo previously had made his mark as head of international operations, overseeing a more than sixfold increase of its international restaurants from 1987 until his retirement in 2001.

Mr. Bell had been the heir apparent since the company promoted him from head of European operations in December 2002 as part of the shake-up that led to Chief Executive Officer Jack Greenberg’s departure.

A native of Australia, Mr. Bell began his McDonald’s career as a part-time crew worker in Sydney and advanced through the ranks, becoming Australia’s youngest store manager at 19, vice president at 27 and a member of the Australian board of directors at 29. He previously led the company’s operations in his home country and in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa division.

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