Apple’s Secrecy Doesn’t Serve Corporate Governance

by Rob Cox and Robert Cyran for The New York Times, February 27th, 2011.

The mystique that Apple cloaks itself in when introducing snazzy gadgets, like the new iPad it is expected to unveil this week, has served its bottom line well. But that same opacity doesn’t translate well to corporate governance.

It took Apple’s board far too long last week to reveal that, with its visionary leader Steve Jobs on leave for health reasons, 30 percent of its shareholders wanted more information on how the company would be run if he did not return. Given Apple’s stunning success, the low profile of the pension fund that put forward the proposal and the board’s recommendation against it, that should send a powerful message.

Apple dropped into a regulatory filing late Thursday that 172 million shares were voted in favor of a proposal put forward by the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund, which has less than $1 billion in assets. The proposal called for the company to adopt and disclose an executive succession plan. With 400 million shares cast in opposition, or 70 percent of the vote, the company clearly prevailed. (continue reading… )



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