Apple's financial chief to retire

After helping to lead Apple through a decade of blistering growth, Peter Oppenheimer is stepping down in September as Apple’s top bean-counter.

He’ll be replaced by company controller Luca Maestri, who was hired a year ago and has more than 25 years of experience in senior financial management, including stints as CFO at both Nokia Siemens Networks and Xerox.
The announcement Tuesday comes one day after Goldman Sachs named Oppenheimer as one of its 13 board members. Oppenheimer will begin transferring responsibilities to Maestri in June. Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company knew Maestri would ultimately succeed Oppenheimer when it recruited him as corporate controller a year ago. Maestri has more than 25 years of experience in senior financial management.

In a statement, Cook praised Oppenheimer’s contributions to Apple’s success, calling him a “dear friend.”

“Peter has served as our CFO for the past decade as Apple’s annual revenue grew from $8 billion to $171 billion and our global footprint expanded dramatically. His guidance, leadership and expertise have been instrumental to Apple’s success, not only as our CFO but also in many areas beyond finance, as he frequently took on additional activities to assist across the company. His contributions and integrity as our CFO create a new benchmark for public company CFOs.

“Peter is also a dear friend I always knew I could count on. Although I am sad to see him leave, I am happy he is taking time for himself and his family. As all of us who know him would have expected, he has created a professional succession plan to ensure Apple doesn’t miss a beat.”

Oppenheimer’s recent duties at Apple included serving as point-man for the company’s new spaceship-shaped corporate campus, which broke ground earlier this year and is scheduled to open in mid-2016. He said in a statement that he hopes to move back to the Central California coast, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo before obtaining an MBA from Santa Clara University.

“I love Apple and the people I have had the privilege to work with and after 18 years here, it is time for me to take time for myself and my family,” Oppenheimer said. “For quite some time, I have wanted to live on the central coast of California and get more involved at Cal Poly, my alma mater; spend more time with my wife and sons; travel to interesting parts of the world; and something I have wanted to do for years— finish the requirements for my pilot’s license.”

According to Apple’s press release:

As CFO, Peter oversees the controller, treasury, investor relations, tax, information systems, internal audit and facilities functions. He started with Apple in 1996 as controller for the Americas, and in 1997 was promoted to vice president and Worldwide Sales controller and then promoted to corporate controller prior to being named CFO. As Apple’s annual revenue has grown more than twentyfold during his time as CFO, Peter has overseen development of a disciplined global financial strategy, robust systems and procedures, and a very strong balance sheet. Under his leadership, Apple has built a world-class finance team. Peter has managed facilities expansion including the addition of four data centers and Apple’s new campus in Cupertino, all of which will be powered by renewable energy.

The move makes a lot of sense, says analyst Ben Bajarin with Creative Strategies, as Apple moves aggressively to expand its traditional markets in the United States and Europe by tapping into high-growth areas like China, India and South America.

“We all know that Apple has strong global ambitions. And while that’s not to say that Peter wasn’t the right guy for that move, Luca has a global view from an operational and financial standpoint,” he said. “And if they want to be a player in India and China, which are very different markets  than the US and Europe where Apple has been successful up to this point, then Luca will help bring this broad and global view.

“This is another step in that transition of post-Steve Jobs leadership who are grabbing the reins,” he said, “and it reflects this new global era that the company is moving into.”

 

Photo: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer testifies May 21, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Oppenheimer will retire in September and will be replaced by the company’s corporate controller. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Patrick May Patrick May (323 Posts)

With more than 30 years on the front line of daily American journalism, I'm currently a staff writer with the San Jose Mercury News, covering Apple and writing people-centric business stories from Silicon Valley.