Apple's Steve Jobs takes new medical leave

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced on Monday he is taking a new leave of absence from the technology company “so I can focus on my health”.

The announcement, which could be a shock to the high-flying tech giant, came with US markets closed for the Martin Luther King Jnr holiday.

Apple shares had tumbled in late 2008 when rumours swirled about his health after he failed to show at the Macworld Expo.

“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health,” Jobs said in an email to Apple employees.

“I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company,” the email read.

Without specifying his health issues, Jobs said he had asked Tim Cook “to be responsible for all of Apple’s day-to-day operations” in his absence.

“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.”

Liver transplant
Jobs went on a medical leave of nearly six months in 2009, and later disclosed he underwent a liver transplant.

The company’s fortunes have been uniquely linked to Jobs, who returned to the company in 1997 after a 12-year absence to turn around the flagging tech giant with innovative and wildly successful products like the iPod and iPhone.

Jobs underwent an operation in 2004 for pancreatic cancer, which was kept under wraps until years later.

Questions about Jobs’s health have resurfaced periodically since the cancer diagnosis, and have been the subject of much debate among corporate governance experts over the obligations the company has to its shareholders.—AFP

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