Apple shareholders reject succession disclosure; Steve Jobs a no-show at annual meeting

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His name was on everyone’s lips and minds. But Steve Jobs did not show up at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday.

That’s where Apple shareholders rejected a plan that would have required the company to disclose succession plans for its chief executive.


The preliminary results were announced at the meeting on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, Calif. Apple did not provide a breakdown of the preliminary voting.

Investors are wrestling with the uncertainty stemming from Jobs’ sudden announcement one month ago that he would take his second medical leave in two years.

The Central Laborers’ Pension Fund, which owns Apple stock, called for a succession plan, a move supported by the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Spokeswoman Jennifer O’Dell, who presented the proposal at the meeting, said Apple should demonstrate to shareholders ‘it’s prepared’ for a smooth transition.

‘Apple bears a responsibility to be upfront with shareholders about how it would handle a CEO vacancy,’ O’Dell said.

Apple says it conducts such planning but that requiring disclosure would reveal confidential information and potentially harm the company’s ability to recruit and retain executives. It deflected concern that succession planning has taken on new urgency with Jobs’ treatment for a rare form of pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant.

The shareholder meeting comes just days before a March 2 event at which Apple is expected to launch the next version of its iPad, which was delayed by Jobs’ medical leave. Jobs is credited with bringing the popular tablet computer to market.

Chief operating officer Tim Cook declined to comment when asked by an investor about the anticipated release of the next iPad. ‘The March 2 event might give you some clues,’ he said.

Another measure, brought by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, called for a majority vote to elect unopposed candidates to the board. The proposal passed in preliminary results. Currently the company does not require a majority. All of the company’s seven board members including Jobs were re-elected Wednesday.


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-- Jessica Guynn