Intel CEO Bob Swan will step down next month, the computer chip giant said on Wednesday, weeks after a hedge fund sent a letter demanding changes in its business.

"Intel today announced that its board of directors has appointed 40-year technology industry leader Pat Gelsinger as its new chief executive officer, effective February 15, 2021," the company said in a statement. "He will succeed Bob Swan."

Though it said the announcement was "unrelated" to Intel's financial performance, the decision follows a December letter to the company from Third Point, led by activist investor Daniel Loeb.

The hedge fund told the company it should consider outsourcing its manufacturing operations to keep pace with rivals in the sector such as Taiwan-based TSMC and South Korean giant Samsung, among others.

Intel CEO Bob Swan's departure follows pressure from a hedge fund led by an activist investor
Intel CEO Bob Swan's departure follows pressure from a hedge fund led by an activist investor GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / David Becker

"We suggest the board retain a reputable investment advisor to evaluate strategic alternatives, including whether Intel should remain an integrated device manufacturer and the potential divestment of certain failed acquisitions," the letter stated.

While Intel remains one of the world's leading chip companies, it has lagged behind rivals in the fast-growing segment of mobile devices, and its chips are being phased out by Apple, which is developing its own microprocessors for its Mac computers.

Swan was made interim chief executive in 2018 and appointed permanently the next year after his predecessor Brian Krzanich resigned over a relationship with an employee that violated a company non-fraternization policy.

Gelsinger is currently CEO of software firm VMware but spent 30 years at Intel and also served as chief operating officer of EMC's Information Infrastructure Products division, the company said.

Intel's stock was up 8.5 percent around 1500 GMT.