updated 03:52 pm EST, Wed December 4, 2013
Admits 'Steve Jobs probably wouldn't have talked to me'
(Updated with Twitter comment on buyback cap) Investor Carl Icahn filed a shareholder proposal for an Apple stock buyback on November 26th, a new TIME interview reveals. Icahn has been trying to pressure Apple into expanding its current buyback from $60 billion to $150 billion, and having it take effect immediately, rather than run through 2015. In response to the interview, Apple has issued a statement. "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," a spokesperson says.
Icahn already owns about $2.5 billion in Apple stock, and an expanded buyback would increase that value even further. Apple executives haven't given any hints about their level of interest, though, and in fact a meeting between Icahn, CEO Tim Cook, and CFO Peter Oppenheimer is said to have got "a little testy," by Icahn's own admission. Typically Apple has preferred to keep large cash reserves as a buffer against downturns, and for the freedom to buy smaller companies whose services and technologies it wants.
Speaking about Cook in the interview, Icahn comments that the executive is "doing a good job with the business" regardless of whether he's willing to expand the buyback. He adds, however, that "Apple is not a bank." Discussing the pair's relationship, he says that "We've discussed a lot of things, and he asked a lot of questions, and really listened...A lot of people say Steve Jobs probably wouldn't have talked to me, and maybe that's true. But I think he [Cook] found our conversation sort of interesting. He said, 'Look, you've accomplished a lot, and we want to listen to you.'"
Update: On Twitter, Icahn is stating that the proposal is no longer "at [the] $150 billion level." What the new level might be is unmentioned, however.