Apple Inc., Carl Icahn may head for a showdown

Written by PTI | New York | Updated: Dec 29 2013, 22:54pm hrs
Carl Icahn and Apple seem to be heading for a major showdown with the iconic creator of iPhone and iPad urging its shareholders to vote against the investor activist's proposal for committing at least USD 50 billion worth of share buyback.

The proposal, made by High River Limited Partnership and Icahn Partners, will be put to vote at the company's annual shareholder meeting scheduled for February 28 next year.

"...the shareholders hereby approve, on an advisory basis, High River's proposal that Apple commit to completing not less than USD 50 billion of share repurchases during Apple's fiscal year ending September 27, 2014," Apple informed the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a filing.

Recommending voting against the proposal, Apple's Board (along with the management team) said they are "thoughtfully considering options" for returning additional cash to the shareholders and are currently seeking input from shareholders as part of the company's regular review.

It said the Board and management team have demonstrated a strong commitment to returning capital to shareholders over the past two years.

In March 2012, the company announced a quarterly dividend and share repurchase programme totaling USD 45 billion.

In April this year, the Board more than doubled the size of the programme to USD 100 billion and increasing the share buyback authorisation to USD 60 billion.

The Board said it has executed "aggressively" against the capital return programme, spending USD 23 billion of the USD 60 billion share repurchase authorisation in fiscal 2013.

"While the Board and management oppose this shareholder proposal, they are fully committed to returning cash to shareholders," it said.

Capital should be returned to shareholders on an efficient and sustained basis, and that the evaluation of capital return should be performed regularly and carefully with the best long-term interest of the business and shareholders in mind, it added.

Earlier this year, Icahn -- often called a Corporate raider -- was involved in a bitter dispute with Michael Dell (founder of the PC manufacturing company) and investment firm Silver Lake Partners to take it private.

In September, Icahn ended his months-long efforts to block Dell's USD 25 billion offer, making way for the company, founded in 1984, to go private.