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Photo: Mike Cohen/Getty Images for the New York Times

IBM announced that Arvind Krishna, who heads the company's cloud unit, will replace Ginni Rometty as CEO in April.

Why it matters: The move comes as a surprise, with Rometty having just recently held court in Davos, unveiling a new call for targeted AI regulation.

  • The company also named Jim Whitehurst, CEO of recently acquired Red Hat, to be IBM's president, effective in April.
  • Rometty, who has spent 40 years at IBM and eight years as CEO, will serve as executive chairman until year's end and then retire.

Between the lines: Krishna, a 30-year IBM veteran, was a key driver of the Red Hat acquisition and has been leading the company's effort to grow its position in cloud computing, where Microsoft, Amazon and Google have been the leaders.

  • During Rometty's tenure, IBM forged close ties with the Trump administration, acquired 65 companies (most notably the $34 billion purchase of Red Hat), and pushed the company into quantum computing, blockchain and other areas. Krishna helped lead a number of those initiatives.

Investors reacted positively to the moves, sending shares up more than 4% in after-hours trading.

Editor's note: The headline was changed to spell Ginni's first name correctly.

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