Apple Inc. has hired Xerox Corp. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri as its corporate controller, a sign that the iPhone and iPad maker may be considering a succession plan for its own CFO.
Xerox, a provider of printers and business services, has started an external search to replace Maestri, who will depart on Feb. 28, the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company said yesterday in a statement. Maestri was the finance chief at Nokia Siemens Networks before joining Xerox in February 2011.
Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO since 2004, began his ascent through the management ranks as controller for the Americas in 1996. Like Maestri, he joined Apple after serving as finance chief elsewhere -- in Oppenheimer’s case it was at Automatic Data Processing Inc. Apple said in June that its last controller, Betsy Rafael, would retire in October 2012.
“Moving from Xerox to Apple is a step up, even going from CFO to controller,” John Bright, an analyst at Avondale Partners LLC, said in an interview. “Is this a stepping stone? It certainly could be.”
The move could be a signal that Apple is ready to plan for Oppenheimer’s succession, Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said in a note to investors. Apple has mulled the future of the position since at least 2011, when the company approached Blackstone Group LP’s CFO about the job, people familiar with the matter said at the time.
Apple hiring Maestri could also mean an increase in buybacks and dividends, as the company looks to take advantage of its cash hoard, Reitzes said.
“Maestri is a champion of shareholder return,” Reitzes said in the note. “The hiring of Maestri could mean that Apple is leaning in that direction long-term.”
Karen Arena, a spokeswoman for Xerox, declined to comment yesterday beyond the company’s statement.
Apple is “thrilled that Luca Maestri will be joining us,” said Steve Dowling, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company. “He brings more than 20 years of experience in finance and management, and we look forward to working with him.”