Apple Senior Vice President of Operations
Some of GT Advanced Technologies' (GTAT) creditors want to question Jeff Williams, Senior Vice President of Operations at Apple. While Apple is also a creditor of GTAT, this other group is seeking proof that a settlement proposal between Apple and GTAT is in the best interests of GTAT.
GTAT declared bankruptcy in October, less than a year after the company signed a deal with Apple worth more than half a billion dollars. Apple ended up paying GTAT some $439 million to develop a massive sapphire manufacturing operation in Mesa, Arizona, but skipped the last payment when GTAT failed to meet key milestones in the agreement.
The bankruptcy proceedings have been closely watched in part because GTAT's rise and fall was spectacular in its scope and speed. Of even more interest, however, is Apple's involvement—because a lot of documents could potentially be exposed in the proceedings, the bankruptcy gives unprecedented access to Apple's supply chain to investors, journalists, and even competitors.
In this latest development, GTAT creditors asked Apple for access to Mr. Williams, the man who served as Tim Cook's lieutenant when he was Chief Operations Officer at Apple. Mr. Williams then stepped up to officially head operations as senior vice president after Tim Cook replaced Steve Jobs as CEO.
"Based on documents produced by Apple, it is clear that Williams played an important, substantial and hands-on role in managing the relationship between GTAT and Apple in connection with the matters that are directly relevant to the Apple settlement motion," the creditors said in court filings reported by The Wall Street Journal.
They were trying to get a "short, half-day deposition."
Whether Apple considers a half day for the person who oversees operations involving more than a million workers isn't known because Apple hasn't commented on that request. The same court filing from this group of creditors, however, said, "Apple declined to produce Williams for a deposition of any length under any circumstance."
Which isn't a surprise. Without being compelled by a court, few companies would want any executive exposed to the deposition process, especially in a case such as this. GTAT has accused Apple of being "oppressive and burdensome," and Apple has done everything it can to keep as many details of its relationship with GTAT sealed by the courts.
Accordingly, the creditors are asking the court to force Apple to make Mr. Williams available for his "short, half-day deposition." The judge has not issued any ruling on the subject.