Google stock split wins approval; CEO loses voice
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Google shareholders gave CEO Larry Page what he wanted Thursday by approving an unconventional stock split meant to cement his authority, but he wasn't around to hail the victory.
Page missed the Internet search leader's annual shareholders meeting because he has lost his voice, a previously undisclosed problem. Google didn't provide any other details about co-founder Page's condition except that whatever is ailing him isn't serious enough to prevent him from fulfilling his duties as CEO.
The voice difficulty is serious enough to prevent Page, 39, from speaking next week at a conference in San Francisco, where Google is expected to show off some of the latest innovations in its Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers. He also is expected to skip a conference call next month to review Google's financial results for the second quarter.
Until his voice recovers, Page is relying on email and other written forms of communication to convey his thoughts. It might not be a huge adjustment for him. Even when his voice is at full strength, the soft-spoken Page can be reticent.
Page's absence was the biggest surprise at an annual meeting in Mountain View that featured familiar jokes about Google's free food and prosperity. A few critics also raised frequently asked questions about Google's methods for tracking its users' preferences and Web surfing activities.
Even the approval of the first stock split in Google's eight years as a publicly traded company was a foregone conclusion. That's because it had the backing of Page, fellow co-founder Sergey Brin and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Combined, the three control about two-thirds of the voting power at Google.
The company didn't announce the specific vote results Thursday, but said the stock-split plan had won majority support.
Google Inc. doesn't expect be able to split the stock until at least October. That's because Google won't do so until it resolves a shareholder lawsuit challenging the plan. The complaint, filed in Delaware state court, alleges that the board breached its fiduciary duty by acceding to the wishes of Page and Brin.
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