Fri, Jan 16, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Apple’s CEO takes medical leave, stock plummets 7%

AFP , SAN FRANCISCO

Apple chief Steve Jobs is taking medical leave of absence because of “complex” health issues, sparking worries about the future of the iconic maker of iPhones, iPods and Macintosh computers.

In an e-mail to employees on Wednesday, Jobs said he was going on leave “in order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products.”

Jobs, 53, a cancer survivor who disclosed on Jan. 5 that he was being treated for a “hormone imbalance,” said that since that time “I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.”

“I have asked [chief operating officer] Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day-to-day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job,” he wrote.

“As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out,” Jobs said. “Our board of directors fully supports this plan.”

The price of Apple’s stock plunged 7.07 percent to US$79.30 in after-hours trading following the announcement.

“Everyone is going to speculate he is on his deathbed, like it usually goes,” Gartner analyst Van Baker said. “The company will do just fine with Steve taking a leave of absence.”

“Steve is the public face of Apple,” Baker said, but “Apple is not going to collapse without him there.”

Jobs, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2005, looked gaunt at his last public appearance in September.

Hormonal imbalance is a common symptom of pancreatic cancer and could signal that Jobs isn’t done battling the often terminal illness, said Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

“It is likely that he is not coming back, because he wouldn’t step away from this job for five minutes unless it was critical,” he said.

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