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Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares traded lower Friday following news that one of its key designers, Jony Ive, will leave the tech group later this year following three decades at the center of its creative focus. 

London-born Ive, who joined Apple in 1992, was considered a close confidant of co-founder Steve Jobs and was credited with leading the group's cutting-edge designs of the 1990s, including the brightly-colored iMac, as well as the group's iconic iPhones that followed a decade later. He was also one of the leading inspirations for the company's Apple Park headquarters, a ten-year project that was completed in 2017. Ive, who was made 'Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire' for services to design and enterprise in 2012, will be replaced by Alan Dye and Evans Hankey.

"Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple's revival cannot be overstated, from 1998's groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care," said CEO Tim Cook. "Apple will continue to benefit from Jony's talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built."

"After so many years working closely together, I'm happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future," Cook added.

Apple shares were marked 1.09% lower in mid-afternoon trading Friday and changing hands at $197.56 each, a move that would not only peg around $9 billion in lost value to the departure of one company employee, but also trim the stock's year-to-date gain to around 25.7%.

Ive, 52, will continue to work on Apple products when his new venture, the California-based 'LoveFrom', is up-and-running early next year. 

"While I will not be an employee, I will still be very involved (with Apple) I hope for many, many years to come," Ive told the Financial Times. "This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change."

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