Washington (AFP) Oct 12, 2009
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 pastfiveyears, 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."
"Igreatlyadmire what they've built andhave no doubtthat 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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