The man credited with designing the iPad and iPhone 4, Jonathan Ive, is contemplating leaving Apple, according to a report.
Ive is the second highest-profile employee of Apple behind Steve Jobs.
Originally from Chingford, London, he is said to be willing to return to Britain to spend more time with his family and to allow his children to go to school there, according to a (paywalled) report in the Sunday Times.
An anonymous source, who told the paper he was a close family friend of Ive’s, said: "Unfortunately he is just too valuable to Apple and they told him in no uncertain terms that if he headed back to England he would not be able to sustain his position with them."
Ive is reportedly about to cash a three year “golden-handcuff” deal, consisting of some £25 million ($39.9 million) in Apple stock shares.
Apple allegedly didn’t like Ive’s proposition to continue to work for the Cupertino company, while commuting between the US and his home in Britain.
When contacted by IT PRO to speak about Ive’s intentions and the plans to substitute him if he were to leave, Apple had no comment to make.
If proved true, this setback would add to the problems Apple has been experiencing within the past few weeks, including concerns about Job’s health and a controversial subscriptions battle with arch rival Google.