Apple CEO Steve Jobs is an "ultimate" business leader, according to Barron's magazine.

Jobs leads the title's annual ranking of leading CEOs from across the planet. Barron's tries to identify those company leaders who have developed the best reputations in their industry – and whose departure would most impact on investors if they left their jobs.

The title believes that the departure of Steve Jobs from Apple would result in a greater loss of stock value than that of any other CEO on the planet. His departure could wipe $16 billion off Apple's market value.

The report emerges as the San Francisco Chronicle asks if Apple's current stock options problem will lead the company to ditch its CEO and co-founder.

The scandal surrounding backdating options in order to beef-up their value continues to engulf corporate America, the report explains. Executives are being sacked and taken to court by US regulators.

Jobs has been involved in two companies that angaged in these irregularities, at Pixar and Apple.

Investigators are currently focused on events surrounding a grant in autumn 2001, when Apple awarded a 7.5 million option grant to Jobs - a grant which was eventually backdated. The grant was eventually cancelled and Jobs didn't profit from the grant.

Apple has cooperated with the authorities in its investigation of these irregularities. Company spokesman Steve Dowling told the San Francisco Chronicle: "After an exhaustive independent investigation, the special committee (conducted by outside legal counsel) found no evidence that Steve Jobs, any member of the current board or current management was aware of that irregularity."

However, the report points out that backdating at Apple began in December 1997, three months after Jobs took over as interim CEO.