Apple's board needs to step up to new era

Thu Oct 6, 2011 7:05pm EDT
 
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By Poornima Gupta and Sinead Carew

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The death of Apple Inc's strong-willed co-founder and Chairman Steve Jobs has put the secretive company's small board at crossroads.

Business as usual, or time for a change? The first signs of the future will be whether they choose an independent chairman and expand the number of directors.

Apple directors include heavy hitters, but they were seen offering advice to the chief executive rather than overseeing Jobs, who was known for persuading people to see things his way.

"The old message was "trust Steve," the new message has to be 'trust the team.' ... It's no longer the cult of personality." said Jim Post, a professor of corporate governance at Boston University School of Management who called for an independent chairman.

"The board needs to be expanded. They need to bring on additional independent talent ..., people who were not living in Steve's shadow," he said.

Apple's time frame for finding a new chairman -- and even whether it is seeking one -- is unclear. A spokesman declined to comment. Previously, Apple had no chairman but only co-lead directors.

Apple's board has long been criticized for its lack of disclosure, particularly about leadership succession as Jobs' battled illnesses whose details were not made public.

Jobs had also been reported to keep the board in the dark at times.   Continued...

 
<p>Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the iPhone 4S at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 4, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>