Apple's board of directors should disclose the liver transplant CEO Steve Jobs reportedly underwent on his return to the company, according to a corporate governance expert cited by Bloomberg. Apple is not required to make such a disclosure while he is on a six-month medical leave of absence, which began in January of 2009, but upon his return that could change.
"In the interests of transparency, I think it would be necessary for them to disclose something as serious as a liver transplant," Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told Bloomberg. "Investors want to know if he's healthy and if he can continue to run the company."
Mr. Jobs took his leave in January citing a nutritional issue that had caused him to lose weight. Speculation over that weight loss and the pancreatic cancer he had battled two years before became a major issue in both the mainstream press and among analysts, Mr. Jobs stepped down in order to remove himself from the limelight and focus on his health.
Since then, Apple COO Tim Cook has handled day-to-day operations of the company, while Mr. Jobs stayed involved with major product decisions. In May, he attended a meeting of the board of directors, marking his first public return to Apple's campus since his leave began.
Also since then, Apple has released several product upgrades -- on time and as expected -- and successfully executed the biggest World Wide Developer Conference in the company's history without Mr. Jobs at the helm. The company also delivered a solid March quarter and is currently expected to be in line with estimates for the June quarter
Perhaps more important from a corporate governance standpoint, the stock has risen from US$85.33 per share the day he announced his leave to $137.65 per share as of this writing. That's a gain of 61.3% for those doing the math at home, which could well make it difficult for shareholders to mount any kind of challenge to the way Apple's board of directors has handled the situation.
In the meanwhile, Mr. Jobs's six month leave ends in the next week or two, and Apple's only official line has been that Mr. Jobs will return to work at the end of June.