Icahn pressing Apple to buy back $150B in stock

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, left, had dinner with Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, left, had dinner with Apple chief executive Tim Cook and is pressuring the company to spend $150 billion buying back its own stock, more than double what the company has budgeted. Icahn's photo is from March 2012, Cook's from Sept. 20, 2013. Photo Credit: Bloomberg News

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Activist investor Carl Icahn is pressuring Apple to spend $150 billion buying back its own stock, a target that would more than double the amount the company's board authorized in a previous attempt to placate frustrated shareholders.

Icahn took to the Internet and the TV airwaves Tuesday to make it clear that he believes Apple Inc. isn't doing nearly enough to boost its stock price, which has fallen by 30 percent from its peak in September 2012. The slump has turned Apple's stock into a bargain, Icahn said on the financial news channel CNBC, making it a "no-brainer" for the maker of the iPhone and iPad to pour more money into its shares.

The Apple board pledged in April to spend $60 billion buying back its stock through the end of 2015. About $18 billion of that commitment had been exhausted through June.

Icahn went public with his demands after making his case with Apple CEO Tim Cook in a Monday dinner hosted at his Manhattan apartment. The face-to-face conversation came seven weeks after Icahn, a billionaire who has built his fortune by investing in out-of-favor companies, disclosed that he had bought a significant stake in Apple and signaled he would be campaigning for changes.

Monday's three-hour meeting was "cordial," according to the often-confrontational Icahn, although he said the mood got "testy" when Apple's chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, expressed misgivings about asking the board to reconsider how much the Cupertino, Calif., company should be spending on its own stock.

"I said, 'So what? The board is not God,' " Icahn said during an interview on CNBC. "The board should be listening to what their shareholders want."

Icahn said Apple agreed to get back in touch with him in three weeks.

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Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment.

Investors are evidently hoping Icahn's crusade will prod Apple to do something to lift its stock. The company's shares climbed $11.21, or 2.35 percent, to close at $487.96 Tuesday.

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