Reports that some on the Apple board have been in discussions with recruiters about a chief executive -- and had an unnamed high-profile candidate in mind -- caused CEO Steve Jobs to call the information wrong.
"I think it's hogwash," Jobs said in an email to the Wall Street Journal about the alleged board discussions.
Jobs took an indefinite second medical leave from Apple in January, but has appeared around the Apple campus and on specific public occasions, such as a dinner with President Barack Obama in February. Tabloids have reported that he is battling cancer but still is taking meetings at his home. Jobs has also been on the Apple campus more frequently lately, including appearing at Apple's WorldWide Developers Conference earlier this month, according to InformationWeek and our reports.
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The WSJ turned Jobs' denial of the Apple board discussions into almost Machiavellian proportions.
It is unclear whether Mr. Jobs was aware. . . . An Apple spokesman declined to comment. For individuals to hold these conversations outside of the official scope of the board is rare at a company where board members have been hand-picked by Mr. Jobs. The board is known to be private and rarely speaks with outsiders about its affairs.
The discussions were held by a few directors not as plans for succession but more of "an exploration of the company's options," an unnamed source told the WSJ.
The company should keep it quiet. Its shares soar or plummet based on news of Jobs' health.
"If something happens to Steve Jobs tomorrow, the stock may go down 50 bucks, so you have to be careful and have it in moderation," Gary Bradshaw, a portfolio manager at Hodges Capital Management, told Reuters.
Most analysts say that board discussions on Apple's CEO succession isn't premature based on Jobs' health -- but at least one thought it may have to do with Jobs' weakened power on the board.
"Curiously, despite being a founder of the company, Jobs own less than 1 percent of the firm (about 0.6 percent) -- he owned 0.63 percent in 2007. So this might be a reason the board is reportedly starting to looking for a new chief," Anna Danielova, assistant professor of finance at DeGroote School of Business in Hamilton, Ontario told the International Business Times.
Apple would be foolish to cut Jobs loose. He's its founder and CEO, but he's also the public face of the company and his appearances raise shares and inspire shareholder confidence. We think however long Jobs wants his position he will have it. To say otherwise is hogwash.