Apple’s CFO to retire this year

Madeleine Swain
5 March, 2014
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Apple has announced the impending retirement of its chief financial officer (CFO) and senior vice president, Peter Oppenheimer, who will step down later this year.

The 51-year-old has been with the company for 18 years and in the top finance position for 10. And, unlike recent moves at rival tech firm Microsoft, which endured a significant period of uncertainty following Steve Ballmer’s resignation as chief executive officer (before finally appointing Satya Nadella in February), Oppenheimer’s successor is already in place.

Luca Maestri is currently Apple’s corporate controller and vice president of finance. In order to ensure a smooth transition, Maestri will begin his duties as CFO in June, taking on more and more of Oppenheimer’s responsibilities until the end of September, when Oppenheimer will finish up for good.

Apple released a statement, in which CEO Tim Cook summed up Oppenheimer’s achievements and praised his contribution to the company.

“Peter has served as our CFO for the past decade,” said Cook, “as Apple’s annual revenue grew from US$8 billion to US$171 billion and our global footprint expanded dramatically,” adding that Oppenheimer’s “contributions and integrity as our CFO create a new benchmark for public company CFOs”.

“Peter is also a dear friend I always knew I could count on,” added Cook. “Although I am sad to see him leave, I am happy he is taking time for himself and his family. As all of us who know him would have expected, he has created a professional succession plan to ensure Apple doesn’t miss a beat.”

During his tenure, one of the most notable undertakings of Oppenheimer’s career was the major share repurchase program he oversaw. As AppleInsider notes, it was the largest of its kind, “utilising Apple’s considerable cash position to invest the company in itself. Apple also began paying a quarterly dividend to investors under the guidance of Oppenheimer”.

Incoming CFO Maestri has plenty of runs under his belt already. His quarter-century of experience includes time spent as CFO at Xerox and Nokia Siemens Networks. He was also the CFO of General Motors’ European division, where he oversaw operations in more than 45 countries with a net revenue of around US$40 billion.

He joined Apple a year ago, in March 2013 and, in a clear foretaste of the company’s plans for him, appeared on Apple’s quarterly conference call in January of this year.

“When we were recruiting for a corporate controller, we met Luca and knew he would become Peter’s successor,” said Cook, in his statement. “His contributions to Apple have already been significant in his time with us and he has quickly gained respect from his colleagues throughout the company.”

AppleInsider writes that the reaction from Wall Street has been favourable to the news, quoting analysts like JP Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz, who commented that at Apple Oppenheimer has implemented a “strong financial management structure” and noting that he doesn’t expect that to change under Maestri’s command.

“Maestri has been well-regarded by the investment community, in our view, and we think he has the skill sets to successfully lead the finance operations at Apple,” Moskowitz said.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating though, of course, and the state of the market following the announcement corroborates Moskowitz’s take on the news, with Apple shares up on Tuesday morning, albeit by under a single percentage point.

As for Oppenheimer, Apple’s press release reports that he plans to put his feet up. And not just his feet… he has the great blue yonder in his sights.

“For quite some time, I have wanted to live on the central coast of California and get more involved at Cal Poly, my alma mater; spend more time with my wife and sons; travel to interesting parts of the world; and something I have wanted to do for years — finish the requirements for my pilot’s licence,” he said.

After overseeing US$163 billion growth in profits during his time at Apple, it’s probably safe to say he’s earned the chance to do all of that and more.

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