Apple Investors Call for Succession Plans

Lora Bentley

Last month, Apple CEO Steve Jobs "stepped away" from his post for medical leave of indeterminate length for an undisclosed reason. COO Tim Cook has taken the reins in Jobs' absence, and Jobs is vowing to return as he is able.

 

I think we've seen this before. And I'm pretty sure the company's board of directors got into a bit of trouble for not disclosing the nature of Jobs' illness. Has the company learned nothing?

 

Yes, a person's health issues are a private matter, as the security and privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and data breach notification requirements in the HITECH Act serve to illustrate. As such, every health event-for better or worse-should not require disclosure.

 

That's Jobs' argument, anyway. And it might have worked if the success of his company weren't so wrapped up in his reputation and his continuing ability to lead. That's what regulators were concerned about in 2009. The question is then: Is Steve Jobs' health material to Apple's success such that it should have been more readily disclosed to investors who were making decisions about their money?

 

I'm sure investors have similar questions now, and those questions are more than likely what prompted them to call for the company to deliver its succession plans. In fact, Reuters reported Friday that advisory firm International Shareholder Services is supporting the shareholder proposal that would require Apple to disclose said plans.


 

So far, the company has resisted disclosure, arguing that it would give rivals an unfair advantage and hinder its ability to recruit.



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