Intel on Monday said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group and a leading contender to one day lead the company, suffered a stroke and is taking a medical leave of absence.
Maloney is expected to be on leave for several months to recuperate, after which he is expected to resume his business responsibilities, Intel said in a statement.
While he is away, his duties will be assumed by Dadi Perlmutter, who also serves as executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.
Maloney, 53, joined Intel in 1982, and became co-general manager of the Intel Architecture Group in 2009.
He is considered by many inside and outside the company to be the front-runner in a three-way race, along with Perlmutter and Andy Bryant, executive vice president of technology, manufacturing, and enterprise services, to succeed Paul Otellini as Intel's president and CEO, according to The Wall Street Journal.
However, Otellini is only 58 years old, and so is not expected to leave that position in the near future.
The three-way race to succeed Otellini came about in September when storage vendor EMC hired Pat Gelsinger, who until then was senior vice president and co-general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, to be the president and COO of EMC's information infrastructure products.
As a result of that hire, Intel reorganized its businesses into three organizations, including the Intel Architecture Group focused on Intel's component business, the Technology and Manufacturing Group focused on global manufacturing, and the Sales and Marketing Group.
The Intel Architecture Group replaced the company's Digital Enterprise Group that until September was headed by Gelsinger.
"I visited with Sean and his sense of humor and determination to return to work fill the room" said Otellini in the statement. "We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to his return."