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Burger King

said Friday that its chairman and CEO will step down to return to his private equity firm as the fast-food giant prepares to go public.

Greg Brenneman will return to TurnWorks, focusing on business turnarounds, after taking the helm at Burger King in August 2004 to help the company reverse slumping sales. He will remain a "significant" shareholder, the company said.

"As the company enters this important next phase, the board and I discussed the commitment necessary for any CEO in a public environment and my career and family goals," Brenneman said in a statement. "As a result, together we decided that the best time to transition leadership was prior to Burger King's initial public offering."

Burger King named its current president and chief financial officer, John Chidsey, chief executive, effective immediately. It also said Brian Swette, a current independent director, would serve as nonexecutive chairman.

Chidsey, 43, joined Burger King in March 2004 as president of its North American operations. Before that, he was chairman and CEO for two divisions at


( CD). Swette has sat on Burger King's board since April 2003. From 1998 to 2002, he was chief operating officer at


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Burger King has faced heightened competition from the likes of


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(WEN) - Get Free Report

. But under Brenneman, the Whopper chain has enjoyed eight consecutive quarters of same-store sales increases, and its profitability is on the rebound. In February, the company filed a registration statement for a $400 million initial public offering, setting forth plans to go public for the first time as an independent company.

The IPO market has been rife with new offerings from the fast-food industry lately, including

Chipotle Mexican Grill

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, a McDonald's spinoff, and

Tim Hortons


, a doughnut chain spun off by Wendy's.