(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger learned that Steve Jobs' cancer had returned less than an hour before Disney announced it was buying Jobs' Pixar studio in 2006, and Iger kept the Apple co-founder's condition a secret for three years, according to Bloomberg, citing a new biography of Jobs.
Iger told the authors of "Becoming Steve Jobs" he thought about the implications of keeping such a secret at a time when regulators were calling for more disclosure and holding executives more accountable to their fiduciary duties, Bloomberg reported.
The $7 billion deal to buy Pixar made Jobs Disney's largest shareholder and put him on the entertainment company's board. Iger decided that Disney was assessing the transaction on the value of Pixar, not Jobs, and his medical condition did not need to be disclosed, the biography said.
Iger said Jobs told him that the cancer had returned while they were on a private walk at Pixar's Emeryville, California, campus about 30 minutes before the deal was to be announced. "Frankly, they tell me I’ve got a 50-50 chance of living five years," Iger quoted Jobs as saying.
According to the book, Iger said he told Jobs: "You’re our largest shareholder, but I don’t think that makes this matter. You’re not material to this deal. We’re buying Pixar, we’re not buying you."
Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003 and underwent surgery the following year. The tumor returned and he had a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs died in October 2011.
The book, which will be published on Tuesday, paints a more sympathetic picture than the 2011 biography by Walter Isaacson, who devoted several passages in his book to Jobs’ messy personal life and mercurial temperament, Bloomberg said.
Writing by Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Mark Potter