SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Bill Neukom will retire as the San Francisco Giants’ controlling owner at the end of the year and be replaced by Larry Baer as chief executive officer.

The team said Wednesday night it had been planning a transition for the bow-tie wearing Neukom from his decision-making job with the reigning World Series champions and he will step down in December. The Giants planned a news conference with Baer and Neukom on Thursday.

A former Microsoft lawyer who will become the Giants’ chairman emeritus for 2012, Neukom took over as managing partner from Peter Magowan in October 2008.

Until the Giants captured the franchise’s first World Series title since moving West in 1958, Neukom had been best known for more than two decades of work as a Microsoft attorney and as a president of the American Bar Association. He served as top counsel for Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

When Neukom took over for Magowan, Baer remained the team’s key executive in day-to-day operations while jumping from executive vice president to team president.

A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Baer was an assistant to CBS Inc. chairman Laurence Tisch in New York when he helped put together the ownership group with Magowan in 1992 that prevented the Giants from moving to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Neukom grew up in nearby San Mateo, with then-San Francisco Seals owner Charlie Graham as a neighbor. He joined the Giants’ ownership group in 1995 and became a general partner in 2003.

His Microsoft stake was worth an estimated $107 million when he left the company in 2001. He is a partner in the Seattle office of the law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis.

Back in 2002, after the Giants lost the World Series to the wild-card Angels, Magowan first mentioned to Neukom the idea of him one day running the Giants.

Before the improbable 2010 championship run, the Giants hadn’t reached the playoffs or won the NL West since 2003 — a year after falling short in the World Series.

The well-rounded Neukom has run a half dozen marathons, rides horses, and remains active despite undergoing hip replacement surgery three years ago.

The San Jose Mercury News was first to report Neukom’s departure.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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