Global fast food giant McDonald's has announced the death of its former ceo Charlie Bell.

Bell (44) died in Sydney, Australia after battling with bowel cancer since May 2004. He was diagnosed with the disease just weeks after his elevation to the top job following previous ceo Jim Cantalupo's fatal heart attack.

Despite valiant efforts to fulfil his role Bell quit in November. He was succeeded by Jim Skinner [WAMN:23-Nov-2004]

McDonald's chairman Andrew McKenna says in a statement: "This is a tragic loss. Charlie Bell gave his all to McDonald's. Even during his hospitalisation and chemotherapy, Charlie led this company with pride and determination. Now he leaves a remarkable legacy."

Bell worked for the company man and boy, starting as a 15-year-old part-timer in Sydney. He became Australia's youngest store manger aged 19 and just ten years later was on the Australian board of directors.

He moved to the US in 2000 as Cantalupo's right-hand man and was instrumental in pulling the company out of the doldrums. He offered healthy food options, tightened operating standards in McDonald's restaurants and relaunched the marketing campaign under single global slogan "I'm Lovin' It".

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff