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Apple shareholders call for transparent CEO 'succession plans'

Jittery board members warn against blabbing Cupertino's secrets

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Apple is advising its shareholders to vote against a proposal to reveal a “succession-planning policy” for the company’s CEO.

Meanwhile, the firm’s current boss Steve Jobs, who owns 5.5m shares in the iPhone maker, saw $1 slipped into his pay packet in 2010.

That figure matches the annual reward he has received since 1997 for heading up the Jobsian outfit.

According to a regulatory filing, Apple doesn’t want to publicly disclose any succession plan because the company is worried that such a move could affect its retention of its top people, who might be lured away by rivals.

“[T]he Board has a formal evaluation process in which it identifies and recommends development of internal candidates for succession based on criteria that reflect Apple’s business strategy,” said Apple.

It said adopting such a proposal “would give the company’s competitors an unfair advantage,” because it “would publicise the company’s confidential objectives and plans. Giving competitors access to this information is not in the best interest of the company or its shareholders.”

The Central Laborers’ Pension Fund, which owns more than 11,000 shares in the firm’s stock, will put forward the proposal at Apple’s annual shareholder’s meeting on 23 February.

Apple is clearly nervous about revealing delicate replacement plans for Jobs, who returned from medical leave in June 2009 after receiving a life-saving liver transplant. ®

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