The question of just how much detail about Steve Jobs' apparently precarious health Apple should be required to disclose to its shareholders is hardly a new one. But here's an unusual take on the issue: if Apple was listed in Australia, there'd be pretty much no question about its obligations to provide updates on the topic as soon as it was aware of the problem.
AFR BOSS Magazine ran a feature last week looking at the obligations companies face when the CEO or other senior executives get sick, and pointed out that the rules in Australia are actually much tougher than in the US:
The debate over whether the board should have kept shareholders better informed of Jobs' health would be more clear-cut in Australia, thanks to the continuous disclosure listing rule, which the US doesn't have. Australian companies are obliged to reveal share price-sensitive information on a continuous basis.
The consensus amongst the experts interviewed was that Apple (or any other company) would not be required to disclose specific details of any executive illness, but would be obliged to keep the market informed of the existence of the issue, and any material plans to deal with it (such as new appointments or changes in succession planning). Interesting...
[BTW, the AFR keeps all its content behind a big shiny paywall which you have to pay $1000 a year to access, so while we can provide you with a link, it's unlikely to provide you with much information unless your career choice was to become a stockbroker. In which case, you have our sympathies. But we'd also like some of your cash, thanks.]