Proposal that Apple release a public CEO succession plan is rejected by shareholders

Wed, Feb 23, 2011


Apple today held its annual shareholders meeting in California where the most publicized item on the agenda centered on a motion that, if approved, would require Apple to publicly release a CEO succession plan.

The proposal was the brainchild of the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund and was first brought to the forefront in Apple’s 2011 Proxy Statement wherein the company’s Board of Directors recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal titled, “Amend the Company’s Corporate Governance Guidelines to adopt and disclose a written CEO succession planning policy.”

As for Apple’s reluctance to implement a public succession plan, Apple explained in its proxy statement that it already “maintains a comprehensive succession plan” and that making such a plan public would provide a competitive advantage to competitors. Moreover, Apple’s Board noted that a public succession plan might also affect the company’s ability to recruit new talent, whether they be executives or engineers, while also affecting their ability to retain talent who might be lured away by aggressive companies once it was apparent they wouldn’t be rising up the corporate ladder.

Driving the point home, the Board emphatically stated that the proposal’s “attempt to micro-manage and constrain the actions of the Board” would ultimately leave the Board unable to respond to “unanticipated changes in the market.”

When the dust settled earlier this afternoon, Apple’s Board was able to breath a sigh of relief. The proposal in question was rejected by shareholders and did not even pass the preliminary tally.


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