“Apple Inc. may already have told investors all it needs to about Steve Jobs’s health problems in its statement yesterday that he was granted a leave of absence, according to three securities law experts,” Chris Dolmetsch and Peter Burrows report for Bloomberg.
MacDailyNews Note: Steve Jobs’ letter, officially released by Apple Inc., dated Monday, January 17, 2011, verbatim:
At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
Dolmetsch and Burrows report, “‘They don’t have to say any more than the fact that he’s taking a leave, it’s indefinite, if that’s what it is,’ James Cox, a Duke University law professor, said yesterday. ‘Then they can express lots of generalized optimism which is not going to get them into trouble because that’s the kind of expected puffery for which there’s no actionable claims to speak of.’ … ‘The SEC hasn’t provided any guidance on this,’ said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and a former federal prosecutor. ‘The last time this happened they did announce that they were going to investigate the disclosure and then we heard nothing else from them.’ … ‘It’s in a company’s interest as well to limit its disclosure so that it does not create for itself a duty to update,’ said Jacob Frenkel, a former SEC enforcement lawyer and now a partner at Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker in Potomac, Maryland. ‘In this day and age, shareholders want to know everything,’ Frenkel said in a phone interview. ‘As a practical matter, in terms of Mr. Jobs’s personal health condition, they’re entitled to know very little.’”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Shareholders have a right to know how this affects Steve Jobs’ ability to do his job at Apple Inc. They have been told he is on indefinite medical leave, hopes to return, will retain the title of CEO, and be involved in major strategic decisions. That he “loves Apple so much” is a bonus, however screamingly obvious it may be. Anything more, including details about his medical condition and/or treatments, unless they affect his ability to “be involved in major strategic decisions,” are, and should remain, private, unless Jobs himself chooses to share them.