updated 1/12/2005 12:28:11 PM ET 2005-01-12T17:28:11

Motorola Inc., the world's second-largest cell phone manufacturer behind Nokia, said Wednesday that veteran executive Mike Zafirovski is resigning as president and chief operating officer at the end of the month.

Zafirovski, 51, had been widely expected to leave after being passed over for the chief executive's job in December 2003 when the company replaced CEO Christopher Galvin with Ed Zander, the former president of Sun Microsystems Inc.

Zafirovski is credited with a key role in Motorola's turnaround, dating to his stint as head of its cell-phone business and continuing with his promotion to president in 2003. The company said he will serve in an advisory role during the transition to a new leadership structure, underscoring that he is leaving on good terms.

"Mike's intense focus on improving the company's operations and product quality has helped us execute on our commitments, enabling Motorola to achieve increased customer satisfaction and strong financial performance," Zander said.

Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Weyrauch said Zafirovski will not be replaced. Instead, Motorola's four group presidents will report directly to Zander.

Zafirovski said he is still considering other jobs. He cited the company's recent spinoff of its semiconductor business into Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and its announcement of a new organizational structure as reasons for the timing.

"This is a decision I have considered carefully and which I discussed at length with Ed," he said. "This is the right time for me to start considering other opportunities."

Before joining Motorola in 2000, the native of Macedonia previously worked 24 years at General Electric Co., serving as president and CEO of four businesses at GE Capital. He joined Boeing Co.'s board of directors in October.

Motorola said last month it is realigning its businesses into four groups in organizational changes designed to improve its focus and operating efficiency. Their presidents are Ron Garriques, mobile devices; Dan Maloney, connected home business; Greg Brown, government and enterprise; and Adrian Nemcek, networks.

The company said Zafirovski will not stand for re-election to its board of directors in May.

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