Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs will leave the company until June to deal with health problems.
Jobs announced plans for medical leave in an e-mail to the company's employees Wednesday.
"I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community," he wrote in the e-mail. "Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought."
Apple released the statement to the press after the stock markets had closed. In after-hours trading, Apple share prices plummeted below $80. Before the closing bell, and before the news of Jobs' temporary departure, Apple shares had dropped 2.71%, or $2.38, to trade at $85.33. Jobs said he plans to maintain involvement in major company decisions while he is on leave, and the board supports that decision.
The leave begins after lengthy speculation about Jobs' health, prompted largely by observations of his significant weight loss. Last week at Macworld, the 53-year-old Apple co-founder revealed that he suffered a hormonal imbalance.
"In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June," he said.
The company's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, will handle day-to-day operations during Jobs' absence, which Jobs stressed is temporary.
"I look forward to seeing all of you this summer," Jobs signed off with.
Apple representatives could not be reached immediately for comment on Jobs' medical leave Wednesday.