Google Inc. Chief Executive Larry Page sat out his company's annual shareholders' meeting on Thursday due to an unspecified condition affecting his voice that will sideline him from speaking engagements for several weeks. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told shareholders at the company's Mountain View headquarters that Page, who replaced Schmidt as CEO in April 2011, had “lost his voice” and would not be able to do any public speaking engagements for the time being. Schmidt said Page continues to run the company, but that he will also not speak at the Google developer conference next week and at the company's second-quarter earnings results next month.
Google CEO loses voice
A Google spokesman said Page has been “asked to rest,” but would not provide more details on his condition. Page, along with co-founder Sergey Brin and Schmidt, control a majority of the Internet company through special shares that give them more voting power.
That capital structure, which has been emulated by the new generation of Web companies such as Facebook Inc and Zynga Inc , was also in the spotlight at Thursday's meeting. A Google proposed stock-split plan designed to preserve the Page and Brin's majority control was passed with a majority of votes at the meeting.
Under the plan, shareholders will get one new share of non-voting “Class C” stock for each existing “Class A” share they own . As a result, Google will be able to issue new non-voting shares for acquisitions and employee compensation without diluting the founders' voting heft over the long-term. The price of Google's current Class A shares will be halved when the new Class C shares are issued and listed on Nasdaq under a separate ticker. Google said the timing of the split is uncertain, due to pending litigation, but it does not expect it will occur before the fourth quarter.
A separate, shareholder proposal to make all shares of Google stock have equal voting power and eliminate the special shares with 10-to-1 voting power did not garner a majority of votes. Google shares were up $1.34 at $566.55 in after hours trading on Thursday. Google's shares are off roughly 15 percent from their 52-week high of $670.22, as investors worry about how the shifting technology landscape will affect its core search advertising business.
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