Newspaper article International New York Times

Icahn Ends Campaign for Apple Buyback ; Facing Strong Opposition to Plan, Activist Investor Still Claims Partial Victory

Newspaper article International New York Times

Icahn Ends Campaign for Apple Buyback ; Facing Strong Opposition to Plan, Activist Investor Still Claims Partial Victory

Article excerpt

The activist investor's six-month campaign ended as other investors voiced opposition, but he still claimed a victory of sorts.

After six months of urging Apple to pay out more money to shareholders, the billionaire Carl C. Icahn has dropped his effort.

His decision on Monday came after strong opposition from other big investors and an influential shareholder advisory firm. Still, Mr. Icahn may have prevailed in the end anyway, as Apple continued to emphasize returning money to investors.

In a public letter posted to his website, the septuagenarian activist said that he was backing down from his proposal. But he also sought to claim victory of a sort, pointing to aggressive stock repurchases by Apple in recent weeks.

"We see no reason to persist with our nonbinding proposal, especially when the company is already so close to fulfilling our requested repurchase target," Mr. Icahn wrote.

Shares in Apple rose 1.8 percent on Monday, to $528.99.

The battle over Mr. Icahn's nonbinding plan, which called upon Apple to buy back $50 billion in shares by Sept. 27, was the latest over the company and its $159 billion chest of cash. A number of investors, including David Einhorn, a fellow hedge fund manager, have demanded that the technology giant buy back shares and pay out special dividends.

But Mr. Icahn, who helped define the art of activist investing in the 1980s, has become Apple's most persistent gadfly, arguing that the company was depriving shareholders by holding onto so much cash. Using an array of media -- including regular television appearances, his website and an active Twitter feed -- he has alternately admonished and encouraged Apple's management to change its policies.

He began amassing a stake in August, a holding that has since grown to roughly $4 billion.

Still, even he could not overcome opposition from other major shareholders and Institutional Shareholder Services, a top adviser to investors on corporate governance matters. …

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