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Disney chief to join Apple board

The addition of Robert Iger will be the first change to the leadership since the death of Steve Jobs. Also, Genentech Chairman Arthur Levinson, an Apple board member since 2005, will become the company's non-executive chairman.

November 16, 2011|By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times

In the first change to Apple's leadership since the death of Steve Jobs last month, the company announced that Walt Disney Co. President and Chief Executive Robert Iger would be the Cupertino, Calif., electronics maker's newest board member.

At the same time, Genentech Inc. Chairman Arthur Levinson, an Apple board member since 2005, will become the company's non-executive chairman, filling the role Jobs occupied briefly after his resignation as Apple's chief executive in August.

Apple has long ties to Disney, largely through Jobs himself, who in 2006 became a Disney board member — and the entertainment giant's largest shareholder — after Disney bought Pixar Animation Studios, the hit-making movie studio that Jobs built.

Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said he had come to know Iger in recent years, and that Disney's emphasis on new technology platforms and international markets aligned with Apple's current strategy.

"Bob and I have gotten to know one another very well over the past few years and on behalf of the entire board, we think he is going to make an extraordinary addition to our already very strong board," Cook said in a statement.

The addition of Iger comes at a crucial time for Apple, which is fighting a multiple-front war against smartphones and tablet computers powered by Google's Android operating system.

Among the main selling points of devices such as Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet — likely to pose a serious challenge to the iPad — is the variety of movies and television shows it can offer. Disney is one of the world's largest media companies.

david.sarno@latimes.com

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