IBM announced Thursday that Ginni Rometty will step down as chief executive and be replaced by Arvind Krishna, a senior executive who has led cloud and cognitive software.

One of the most high-profile women CEOs, Rometty will step aside on April 6 but hold the title of executive chairman through the end of 2020, when she will retire.

Since taking over at IBM in 2012, Rometty, 62, has emphasized cloud computing and artificial intelligence through the Watson program.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is seen in May 2019 as she arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris as part of "Tech For Good" meetings IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is seen in May 2019 as she arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris as part of "Tech For Good" meetings Photo: AFP / Bertrand GUAY

IBM credited Rometty with reinventing more than 50 percent of IBM's portfolio following acquisitions of 65 companies and extensive in-house research and development efforts.

Still, IBM has struggled with falling sales through much of Rometty's tenure as rival tech firms have gained ground.

IBM said Krishna, 57, whose title is senior vice president, was a principal architect of IBM's $34 billion acquisition of open source software company Red Hat, among the biggest tech mergers in history.