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Genentech Chairman Resigns From Google Board

By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE (AFP)

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 11:42 am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Genentech chairman Arthur Levinson has resigned from
the board of directors of Google amid a probe by US authorities into
his membership of the boards of both the Internet giant and Apple.

Google,
in a statement Monday, did not give any reason for Levinson’s departure
but it comes just two months after Google chief executive Eric Schmidt
resigned from the board of Apple.

US law prohibits a person from
serving on the boards of two companies that are direct rivals, and the
Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation in May into the
overlapping Google and Apple board memberships.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz welcomed Monday’s announcement.

"Google,
Apple, and Mr. Levinson should be commended for recognizing that
overlapping board members between competing companies raise serious
antitrust issues and for their willingness to resolve our concerns
without the need for litigation," Leibowitz said in a statement.

"Beyond
this matter, we will continue to monitor companies that share board
members and take enforcement actions where appropriate," he said.

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog also welcomed Levinson’s resignation, saying he had "acted correctly" in stepping down.

"We’re
pleased that Arthur Levinson finally realized that serving on both
Google’s and Apple’s boards was untenable," said John Simpson of
Consumer Watchdog. "It took too long, but he finally did the right
thing."

Levinson had served on the Google board since April 2004.

Schmidt,
asked by a reporter less than two weeks ago whether Levinson should
step down from the board of Google, said, "I would hope not. I don’t
think it’s necessary."

Schmidt on Monday described Levinson as a good friend and valued colleague.

"Art
has been a key part of Google’s success these past five years, offering
unvarnished advice and vital counsel on every big issue and opportunity
Google has faced," Schmidt said. "Though he leaves as a member of our
board, Art will always have a special place at Google."

Levinson said working with Google has been a "remarkable experience."

"I greatly admire what they’ve built and have no doubt that Google has a terrific future," he said.

Apple
chief executive Steve Jobs, in announcing Schmidt’s resignation from
the Apple board in August, said that the Google CEO could no longer
function effectively with Google entering more of Apple’s core
businesses, such as the smartphone and personal computer operating
system markets.

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