First Data Corp.'s new chief executive, Joe Forehand, is wasting no time in shaking things up within the debt-laden processor. The company announced Tuesday the departure of three top executives, including its recently hired chief financial officer.

Forehand last month took over as chairman and interim CEO, following Michael Capellas' March announcement that he was stepping down as chairman and CEO to work as a senior adviser at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., the private-equity firm that bought First Data and took it private in 2007.

Observers believe First Data is positioning itself for an initial public offering, though not in the near future, and said that Forehand, who in 2001 as Accenture Ltd.'s CEO led that company's IPO, will likely play a key role.

"Sudden executive turnover usually suggests there are problems, but this is most likely related to Joe Forehand's arrival," said Aaron McPherson, financial services practice director at IDC Financial Insights.

"It's a little quick, but it's not that surprising."

First Data said Tuesday it had promoted Ray Winborne from controller to acting chief financial officer, succeeding W. Patrick Shannon, whom it hired as CFO last September.

It also promoted Kevin Kern from chief technology officer to executive vice president, global operations and technology, succeeding Robert P. DeRodes.

Grace Chen, who joined First Data in September 2007 as executive vice president for marketing and communications, is also departing.

The three executives will leave after a transition period; First Data did not give a reason for their exits.