Activist investor launches shareholder advocacy website
Fresh from enjoying a massive windfall from his Netflix investment, Carl Icahn is turning his attention to another technology giant.
The activist investor is urging Apple CEO Tim Cook to institute an $150 billion stock buyback in a letter posted to a new website Icahn launched called “Shareholders Square Table.” It's an investor advocacy forum, with a populist tinge (there's an illustration of peasants storming a castle), only in this case the audience skews more towards the one percent.
“The criticism we have as shareholders has nothing to do with your management leadership or operational strategy. Our criticism relates to one thing only: the size and timeframe of Apple's buyback program,” Icahn writes. “It is obvious to us that it should be much bigger and immediate.”
Icahn goes on to disclose that his hedge fund now owns 4.7 million shares, a 22 percent increase from his position at the end of September. That investment has a value of $2.5 billion, and he writes that, “We consider Apple to be our most compelling investment.”
Apple has made moves to return cash to its shareholders, instituting a $60 billion share repurchase program over three year, but Icahn notes that with $147 billion of cash on its balance sheet, the company could share more of the wealth. As Moody's noted this month, Apple controls 10 percent of the cash held by U.S. corporations.
To prove his point, Icahn writes that he will withhold his shares from the tender offer he proposes.
“There is nothing short term about my intentions here,” he writes.