Nov 16, 2011

Apple appoints new chairman

Apple on Tuesday named a new board chairman, in another signal that the technology giant would not be run the same way as it was under its co-founder, Steve Jobs.

Apple also elected to its board Robert A. Iger, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Co. That move comes at a time when the company is strengthening its connections to the entertainment business.

Apple said Arthur D. Levinson, the chairman of Genentech who has been on the Apple board since 2000, would become its nonexecutive chairman. The elevation of Levinson, one of the longest-serving Apple board members, could provide some continuity in the senior leadership of Apple as it seeks to maintain its success without Jobs, who died in October of cancer.

Apple did not have an official chairman after Jobs returned to the company in the late 1990s as chief executive. But Jobs was widely viewed as having all the authority and influence of someone with that title. Jobs took the title of chairman only after resigning as chief executive in late August, holding the position for the few weeks before his death.

By naming Levinson chairman, and not giving the title to Apple's new chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple is moving more into line with corporate governance practices at other companies, experts in the field said. Dividing the duties of chairman and chief executive is believed to provide more independent oversight of a company than if one individual holds both titles.

"For an organization, going through the kind of change Apple is going through it can be particularly helpful," said Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "You have changes in culture, lines of authority and changes in leadership. You want many eyes on that process and many talents being used."

In a statement, Cook praised Levinson's appointment.

"He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders," he said.

Iger's appointment to the board also harks back to Jobs' era in a sense. Jobs founded Pixar Animation and sold it to Disney in 2006, thereby making him a board member and the largest individual shareholder at Disney.

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