Jim Cantalupo, the chairman and CEO of US fastfood giant McDonald's, passed away on Monday after an apparent heart attack.

Cantalupo, 60, was attending the company's Worldwide Owner/Operator Convention in Orlando, Florida when he died. A former vice chairman and president, Cantalupo retired in 2001 after 28 years with McDonald's. He came out of retirement early last year to take the post of chief executive after former CEO Jack Greenburg resigned amid falling sales at the fastfood chain.

Shifting focus to improved menu offerings and better service, Cantalupo was widely credited with turning around the chain's performance, reported Reuters. As well as cutting back on expansion, and closing under-performing restaurants, he helped develop the company's recently-announced anti-obesity plan.

Following Cantalupo's sudden death, McDonald's said Australian Charlie Bell, 43, had been elected president and CEO. Bell, who will be the company's first non-American CEO, is currently president and chief operating officer.

Andrew McKenna, 74, the board's presiding director, has been elected non-executive chairman, effective immediately.