Atlanta--Extending both an executive exodus from AFC Enterprises and a several month long shakeup at its 1,500-unit Church's Chicken division, the chain's veteran chief financial officer, Carl Jakaitis, has resigned his post to become president of Church's largest franchisee, Royal Capital.

Jakaitis' unexpected departure to take the helm at 117-unit Royal follows recent exits from Church's by its chief operating officer, Barbara Timm-Brock, and chief marketing officers, Ann Stone. Some observers have linked the executive turnover at Church's to several quarters of disappointing sales. But sources close to both companies say the decampments also could reflect AFC's possible preparedness to sell the chicken brand to Royal Capital or other potential suitors. Royal previously has acquired blocks of Church's units from AFC in several states, including 40 struggling branches in California seven years ago and others in Texas in 2001. AFC itself currently owns about 280 branches of the chain.

Royal's chairman and chief executive, David Davoudpour, would not comment on speculation that his company intends to take over the entire Church's system, the industry's number-two quick-service chicken chain. -Nation's Restaurant News