Jobs Absence Seen Pressuring Apple To Move On Succession Plan

Jobs Absence Seen Pressuring Apple To Move On Succession Plan

By Roger Cheng and Ian Sherr


NEW YORK (Dow Jones)-Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Steve Jobs' third medical leave since 2004 revives questions about a potential leadership change at the consumer electronics giant, which has been criticized by some investors for failing to provide more insight into its plans for future management.

Apple, the world's most valuable technology company by market capitalization, has been reluctant to talk about life after Jobs, even though the company's image, products and direction are closely tied to its top executive. Investors and company observers have long said Apple should be more open about its current and long-term plans, particularly since an earlier leave during which Jobs received a liver transplant, which wasn't disclosed until after the fact.

Confusion over Apple's succession plan is expected to pressure Apple's share price Tuesday, after the stock's historic gains in recent years. In trading Monday in Frankfurt, Apple shares fell nearly 8%.

On Monday, the 55-year-old Jobs told company employees that he had been granted a leave "so I can focus on my health." Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will run the company in Jobs's absence though Jobs would "be involved in major strategic decisions for the company."

Cook, 50, is the closest Apple has to an apparent heir. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has expressed confidence in Cook in the past; he took the reins of the company during Jobs's previous absences.

Still, the company has been frustratingly obtuse when it comes to providing confirmation as to whether Cook would be in line to eventually succeed Jobs. When asked if the company or board planned to disclose further details, Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton told The Wall Street Journal, "We've said all we're going to say."


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