Apple’s Steve Jobs resigns, shares plummet

2011-08-25 07:13

San Francisco – Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs has relinquished the reins at Apple to righthand-man Tim Cook, after 14 years in command at a company he brought back from the brink and turned into the world’s largest technology corporation.

Jobs, who fought and survived a rare form of pancreatic cancer and revolutionised the technology arena with the iPhone in 2007, is deemed the heart and soul of a company that started in a garage and is today neck-and-neck with Exxon Mobil in the race to become the largest US corporation.

Analysts do not expect Jobs’ resignation – which was more a question of when than if – to derail Apple’s fabled product-launch roadmap, including possibly a new iPhone in September, and a third iteration of the iPad tablet next year.

But the company’s shares still dropped as much as 7% in after-hours trade after the industry icon, who has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since January 17, announced he will be replaced by COO and heir-apparent Cook.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come,’’ he said in a brief letter announcing his resignation.

The 55-year-old CEO briefly emerged from his medical leave in March to unveil the latest version of the iPad and later to attend a dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama for technology leaders in Silicon Valley.

Jobs’ often-gaunt appearance has sparked questions about his health and his ability to continue at Apple.

“I will say to investors: don’t panic and remain calm, it’s the right thing to do. Steve will be chairman and Cook is CEO,’’ said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.

Yesterday, Apple shares slid to $357.40 in extended trading after a brief halt. They had gained 0.7% to close at $376.18 on the Nasdaq.

Analysts expressed confidence in the Apple bench, headed by longtime company No. 2 and supply-chain maven Cook.

“Investors are very comfortable with Tim Cook even though Jobs has been a driver of innovation and clearly an Apple success. Tim has shown Apple can still outperform extremely well when he’s been acting as CEO,’’ said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross.

“I don’t know if it’s a health issue. I don’t know if it is a shock. Most likely it was going to happen at some point. Why today versus another day? I don’t know.”

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