Google's Schmidt: Why Would I Leave Apple's Board?

Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt said he doesn't plan to step down from Apple's (AAPL) amid an antitrust investigation involving the two companies.

Schmidt told a group of reporters at Google's annual shareholder meeting that he will remain an Apple board member despite the Federal Trade Commission's inquiry into whether ties between Google's and Apple's boards might discourage competition, according to media reports. Former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson also sits on both boards.

Antitrust experts say the provision against "interlocking directorates" is rarely enforced.

Schmidt has said he doesn't consider Apple a primary competitor, even though both firms compete in the mobile phone and operating system markets. However, according to various reports, he did say the company has been "more careful about when and how we do things that will raise concerns of any party."

According to Barron's Online, Google's general counsel Kent Walker said the company would "prefer not to say much more at this point," but that "there is a safe harbor under the Clayton Act for companies that don't have overlapping revenue in different areas, and we're comfortable with that position."

Google shares fell 1.7% to $396.61 in Thursday trading, and Apple shares fell 2.6% to $129.06.

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