Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, who is avoiding speaking in public, told employees “there is nothing seriously wrong with me” in an e-mail, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Page made the comment to employees June 21, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the same day at a meeting with shareholders that Page had lost his voice and wouldn’t speak at the gathering or two more public events, including the call with analysts next month to review second- quarter results.
Page “can’t do any public speaking for the time being,” but will continue to run the company, Schmidt said at the meeting.
The announcement may raise some questions among investors, given the time that he won’t be speaking, Douglas Anmuth, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., wrote in a research note yesterday. While Google (GOOG:US) hasn’t announced the day for the next call with analysts, the company held the conference call last year on July 14 for its second-quarter results.
The e-mail from Page was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
“We have no specific reason to think there is anything more to Larry’s condition, but we find it odd that the company would already rule him out of the 2Q call which is likely still a few weeks away,” Anmuth wrote in the note.
Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment.
The Mountain View, California-based company’s shares rose 1.1 percent yesterday to close at $571.48. The stock is down 12 percent for the year.
In addition to the shareholders’ meeting and the call with analysts, Page won’t be able to speak at next week’s annual developers conference in San Francisco, Schmidt said.
“I think that health issues for the CEO are always a delicate balance between privacy issues for Page versus providing information to shareholders,” said David Larcker, professor of accounting at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “At some point, the shareholders need to be satisfied that the board of directors has a good grasp on this issue and are taking the necessary steps to make sure Google is being adequately managed.”
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