IBM chief financial officer Martin Schroeter will move to a new role and will be replaced by company veteran James Kavanaugh, effective immediately.
Schroeter, who has been with the company for more than 25 years and has been finance chief for the last four years, will become senior vice-president for global markets.
While the announcement was unexpected, the logic behind the move is not and Kavanaugh would be a logical replacement for Schroeter, said Stifel analyst David Grossman.
Kavanaugh has deep roots in finance and has held various positions at IBM. At AT&T, he was the CFO of the company's Americas Global Services unit.
Schroeter, 53, will replace Bruno Di Leo, who is retiring after 42 years with the company.
"It's very common for IBM to make senior executive changes at the start of the year, so this is not out of the ordinary in that sense," an IBM spokesman told Reuters.
Both Kavanaugh and Schroeter will report to chief executive Ginni Rometty.
In his new job, Schroeter will be mostly responsible for sales in Japan, Asia Pacific, Latin America, China, Middle East and Africa, the spokesman said.
IBM, one of the world's original PC producers but now a broad-based producer, integrator and software maker, beat expectations for revenue in its last quarterly results in October after 22 straight quarters of declines.
Earlier yesterday, technology Web site The Register reported, citing unnamed company sources, that IBM plans to reassign up to 30% of staff in its 103 000 computer service delivery business this year with job cuts through attrition of around 10 000.
"We do not comment on speculation," an IBM spokesman said, when asked about the report.
The Register published a slide it said was from an IBM internal document, which showed 10 100 jobs classified as "attrition w/o backfill".
"Many consultants recommend things to IBM, many of which remain merely recommendations," IBM said.