Apple appoints Arthur Levinson as new chairman

Apple’s named Arthur Levinson as its non-executive chairman of the board, and is recruiting Robert Iger, currently president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, as a director.

Levinson’s been a co-lead director of Apple’s board since 2005, and has served on all three board committees — audit and finance, nominating and corporate governance and compensation. He’ll continue to serve on the audit committee, as will Iger.

“Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000,” says Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”

Levinson is chairman of Genentech, and a director of Roche. He joined Genentech as a research scientist in 1980, and served as CEO from 1995 to 2009.

At one point, he had board positions at both Apple and Google, but stepped down from Google in 2009 after a federal investigation.

Levinson, 61, takes over the role that Steve Jobs, who died last month of pancreatic cancer, stepped into two months earlier after stepping down as chief executive in August.

Naming him chairman makes for a more conventional management structure than has been the case with Apple, by separating the roles of chairman and CEO.

Appointing Iger will strengthen Apple’s ties to Disney, with which it’s had a close relationship for years. It could help make sure that the company retains access to Disney’s entertainment content.

“Bob and I have gotten to know one another very well over the past few years and on behalf of the entire board, we think he is going to make an extraordinary addition to our already very strong board,” says Cook.

“His strategic vision for Disney is based on three fundamentals: generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology, and expanding into new markets around the world which makes him a great fit for Apple.”