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Apple doesn't want to reveal CEO succession plans

Apple is recommending to shareholders' that they vote against a proposal that would force the company to reveal succession plans for Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs addressed the state of his health during an Apple event in October 2008.
James Martin/CNET

Apple is once again being asked to discuss what the company would do without CEO Steve Jobs.

Apple said today in regulatory filings that it was informed that Central Laborers' Pension Fund, which owns over 11,000 shares of Apple stock, plans to submit a proposal at Apple's annual shareholder's meeting on February 23, that if passed would require Apple to "adopt and disclose a written and detailed succession planning policy."

Apple's board of directors said in the filings that it has recommended shareholders vote against the proposal. They say they have already established a succession plan and disclosing it publicly would only hurt the company's ability to retain and recruit top executive talent. Apple wrote that competitors could poach top Apple execs who learn they aren't in line for the top jobs or those execs might leave voluntarily.

Few leaders are as closely identified with their companies as Jobs. Some shareholders appear to get nervous anytime there's a debate about what the company's prospects are without him. In the event that Jobs won't or can't continue with his duties, some shareholders want to know how Apple would respond. Those plans haven't been publicly disclosed.

The debate took on a greater urgency after Apple revealed that Jobs underwent a liver transplant in 2009.

As part of Central Laborers' plan, Apple's board would be required to "develop criteria for the CEO position which will reflect the company's business strategy and will use a formal assessment process to evaluate candidates" as well as identify and develop top candidates from within the company. The proposal also calls for Apple to maintain nonemergency and emergency succession plans.