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Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella

Microsoft is close to naming its top cloud and enterprise executive Satya Nadella its next CEO, and the company may replace iconic co-founder Bill Gates as chairman, according to a report by Bloomberg News this afternoon.

The report, citing anonymous sources briefed on the selection process, cautioned that “the plans aren’t finished.” However, a report earlier today by Re/code also named Nadella as “the likeliest internal candidate to prevail.”

Nadella has long been rumored to be among the finalists for the CEO position, but the notion of replacing Gates as chairman is a new twist that would mark the end of an era at the company, at least symbolically. Gates, the largest individual Microsoft shareholder, stepped down from his day-to-day duties at the company in 2008 but has remained chairman.

John Thompson, the former Symantec CEO who is now Microsoft’s lead independent director and leading the CEO search, is identified in the Bloomberg report as one person the board is considering to become chairman.

Nadella is a popular executive inside Microsoft, leading one of the most successful parts of its business, but the leap to CEO would be a sizable one from his current position. Microsoft has considered a wide variety of external candidates for the job, including CEOs at other large tech companies.

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