Apple is putting its foot down on investor Carl Icahn’s proposed $50 billion boost to share buybacks in 2014 and asking shareholders to vote against the proposal.
Ahead of its annual shareholder meeting Feb. 28, Apple filed a preliminary proxy with the SEC detailing the agenda for the meeting. One of the items up for vote is Icahn’s proposed increase to Apple’s share repurchases during the company’s fiscal 2014. In the filing, Apple detailed its board’s opposition to the proposal and outlined the capital return programs already in place.
In March 2012, Apple announced a quarterly dividend and share repurchase program totaling $45 billion. In April 2013, the Board authorized an increase the program to $100 billion, raising the dividend, and increasing the share buyback authorization to $60 billion. Apple spent $23 billion of the $60 billion share repurchase authorization in fiscal 2013.
As Apple points out, in the first six quarters of the capital return program, dividend payments and share repurchases totaled over $43 billion. But Apple reassured that more buybacks are being considered.
“While the Board and management oppose this shareholder proposal, they are fully committed to returning cash to shareholders. The Board and management team believe that 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,” Apple wrote in the filing.
Icahn has been persistent in his quest to push Apple into returning to investors a bigger chunk of its large cash holdings. In September, Icahn hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook for dinner to discuss his proposed $150 billion buyback program. In December, Icahn announced he was lowering his targeted amount and Apple’s new SEC filing reveals that new proposal is requesting a $50 billion buyback.
Icahn owns 4.7 million shares of Apple, less than one percent of the company.