Carl Icahn files shareholder proposal in effort to actualize larger stock buyback
Well, if there's one thing most can agree on when it comes to activist investor Carl Icahn, it's that he's persistent.
In an exclusive interview with Time, the billionaire investor reveals that he recently filed a shareholder proposal to be raised at the company's next shareholders meeting. Its purpose? To get Apple to buy back even more of its shares on the open market.
His measure calls for a share buyback and is in the form of a precatory proposal, which means that even if a majority of Apple shareholders approved, it would not be binding on the company's management. That's the typical approach for shareholder resolutions, even those coming from investors who are at odds with management.
For his part, Icahn says he doesn't consider his proposal an indictment of Apple CEO Tim Cook, or the company's management, per se. "Tim Cook is doing a good job with the business," Icahn tells Time. "I think he's good whether he does what I want or not." But, says Icahn, referring to the company's huge cash stockpile, "Apple is not a bank."
Back in October, Icahn had lunch with Cook where he championed a US$150 billion stock buyback. In a tweet sent out on Wednesday afternoon, Icahn noted that his new proposed buyback program is less than $150 billion.
Apple, of course, finds itself in the enviable position of having more money than it knows what to do with. This past April the company announced its plan to increase its dividend and stock buyback program to $100 billion. Under Apple's current capital return program, it plans to buy back $60 billion worth of its own shares by 2015.
As of Apple's most recent earnings report, the company has a cash pile of $147 billion.
Addressing Icahn's proposal, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling issued the following statement to Time:
Earlier this year we more than doubled our capital return program to $100 billion, including the largest share repurchase authorization in history. As part of our regular review process, we are once again actively seeking our shareholders' input on our program, and as we said in October, the management team and our board are engaged in an ongoing discussion about it which is thoughtful and deliberate. We will announce any changes to our current program in the first part of calendar 2014.
Icahn currently owns 4.7 million shares of Apple.
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