Billionaire hedge fund manager Carl Icahn, who has already built up a healthy stake in Apple, is now asking the company’s shareholders to vote on whether Apple should increase its buyback program.
It comes in the form of a “precatory proposal,” which is basically just a gentle nudge to get the company to consider Icahn’s proposal more seriously. He wants to increase Apple’s buyback program — which is already on track to return $100 billion to shareholders — though not at the $150 billion level that he previously sought, according to his tweet earlier today.
Icahn could, in theory, back out of the proposal at any time — if he gets what he is looking for out of Apple, at least. Apple has already made a significant run up in its stock price in recent weeks, largely due to chatter about the possibility of the iPhone launching on China Mobile, one of the largest carriers in the world.
The motivation behind Icahn’s aggressive campaigning is Apple’s cash stockpile that rivals the balance sheets of some sovereign nations. At more than $147 billion, Apple is seen by investors as not returning enough of its cash to shareholders, which has placed some pressure on the stock price.
For its part, an Apple spokesperson told Time magazine that “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.”