Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, is taking a medical leave of absence from the company.
In an email to employees, Jobs said: “At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.”
Jobs said that Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, would take over day to day operations for the company.
He added: “I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”
Jobs was treated for pancreatic cancer in 2004. In 2009 he underwent a liver transplant during a six-month medical leave of absence.
The 55-year-old has been the face of Apple since he returned to the company in 1996.
His keynote speeches, which he delivers several times a year - always dressed a black turtle-neck shirt and blue jeans - have become massive events on the technology calendar and have helped to drive the company’s public image.
In Frankfurt, Apple shares fell 4.5pc on the news. US markets are closed today for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.