Red Hat's chief financial officer, Kevin Thompson, will soon be leaving the company, it announced late last night. The news comes just a few days before the Linux vendor announces it quarterly financial results.

Thompson, who has been with Red Hat nearly four years, is leaving to pursue other interests and spend more time with his family. He is expected to stay on until a replacement has been found, Red Hat said in a statement. Shares in the company were down $2.98, or 12.26 percent, on the news.

Red Hat is scheduled to announce results for its 2005 fiscal first quarter on Thursday. It is expected to post earnings per share of $0.04 on revenue of $43 million for the three-month period ended 31 May.

Thompson has played a key role in moving Red Hat from primarily a services model to a subscription pricing model, said Stacey Quandt, a principal with Quandt Analytics, an industry research firm. "Kevin had the hard job of figuring out their subscription model," she said. "They had a services model for a long time and he went to the subscription model. He was a key member of Red Hat, intricately involved."

While a sudden departure of a CFO usually means bad news, in Thompson's case, he truly wants to spend more time with his wife and young sons, claimed Amy Feng, a senior research analyst at San Francisco investment bank JMP Securities. "I asked him pretty plainly, nine times out of ten when a CFO of your caliber resigns, that means a company is heading towards a significant ditch. He said that he saw no ditch," Feng said. "He probably won't retire for the rest of his life, but he is retiring for now."