Joining other experts, billionaire investor Warren Buffet says Apple might have violated the law by keeping quiet about Steve Jobs’s liver transplant.
The head of Berkshire Hathaway said Jobs’s life-saving operation was a “material fact” that Apple was legally obliged to report to investors. The Securities and Exchange commission requires public companies to report material facts to shareholders. Failure to do so is in breach of the law.
“It’s a material fact,” said Buffett on CNBC on Wednesday. “Whether he is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact. Whether I’m facing serious surgery is a material fact. Whether (General Electric CEO) Jeff Immelt is, I mean, so I think that’s important to get out. They’re going to find out about it anyway so I don’t see a big privacy issue or anything of the sort.”
Buffett joins other experts, such as marketing professor Paul Argenti, who say Apple violated the law by keeping Jobs’s declining health a secret.
However, both Jobs and Apple have insisted that Jobs’s health is a private matter. Jobs reportedly undertook the transplant while on medical leave, and wasn’t actively running the company on a day-to-day basis.
Buffett, however, seems unconvinced.
“If I have any serious illness, or something coming up of an important nature, an operation or anything like that, I think the thing to do is just tell the American, [or in my case] the Berkshire shareholders about it,” Buffett said. “I work for ‘em. Some people might think I’m important to the company. Certainly Steve Jobs is important to Apple.”
Buffett is famously plainspoken, and, as no doubt someone will note in the comments, a close friend of Bill Gates. Buffett, 75, has pledged 85% of his Hathaway stock to five foundations, most of it going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
But as MacBlogz points out, Jobs and Buffett share many similarities: The two billionaires live simple lives in modest houses; hold liberal political views; and both are very closely associated with the companies they run. MacBlogz: Warren Buffett & Steve Jobs: 10 Similarities.