ISS Calls for Apple CEO Succession Plan
Apple doesn’t want to divulge its executive succession plan, but it may soon have to. With CEO Steve Jobs on indefinite medical leave for an undisclosed condition and the company’s annual meeting scheduled for Feb. 23, support is growing for a shareholder proposal that would require Apple to explain what it plans to do should Jobs step down.
Now backing the measure: The Laborers’ International Union of North America and Institutional Shareholder Services, one of the most influential proxy advisory outfits around.
“ISS believes that shareholders would benefit by having a report on the company’s succession plans disclosed annually,” ISS said. “Such a report would enable shareholders to judge the board on its readiness and willingness to meet the demands of succession planning based on the circumstances at that time.”
That may be so, but according to Apple, which recommends shareholders vote against it, such a report would also give the company’s rivals unfair advantage by publicizing its objectives and plans and would undermine its efforts to recruit and retain champion executives. “The company takes succession planning seriously, and the board has adopted a comprehensive process to ensure continuity and maintain the superior quality of its management team,” Apple said in its 2011 proxy statement. “This process also allows flexibility to adjust to unanticipated changes in the market.”
What it doesn’t allow for is transparency, something investors might appreciate with Jobs now on his third medical leave from Apple.