Apple has announced new measures to enhance its corporate governance.

These include adding two new independent directors to its board, increasing the use of independent committees on the board and reducing issued stock-option "overhang" from 23 to 16 per cent.

The company announced its first new board member Wednesday night - former US vice president Al Gore. The company has begun its search for a second independent director. Five of seven Apple directors will be independent under Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Nasdaq rules.

Apple's board has expanded the role of its independent Nominating Committee to include corporate governance, and has expanded the role of its Audit Committee in accordance with the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act and proposed SEC and Nasdaq regulations. The two committees are chaired by independent directors and staffed by a majority of independent directors.

The company also approved measures to reduce its issued stock options as a percentage of total options and shares outstanding from 23 to 16 per cent.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs voluntarily exchanged his 27.5 million stock options for a new grant of 5 million restricted shares that will vest on the third anniversary of the grant.

These measures are should return a net total of over 32 million options back to the Company, which represent almost 7 per cent of the total outstanding.

The company also introduced new non-shareholder option rules so all Apple employees can benefit from it. Some measures need to be approved by existing shareholders.

"This is a good day for Apple?s shareholders - they will have even more independent representation on their Board, the addition of a terrific new director in former vice president Al Gore and a reduction in issued stock option overhang from 23 to 16 per cent," said Jobs.

"Apple makes the best personal computers in the world and there is no reason why it shouldn?t be among those companies with the best corporate governance in the world," he insisted.

More information about Apple's corporate governance standards is available online.