Apple vs. Icahn: What the Board Must Decide

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Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) –- Wedge Partners Principal Brian Blair discusses Apple's statement to its shareholders urging them to vote against billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s proposal related to a buyback on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Apple has been pretty quiet up until this point on this issue.

Is that not true?

Yes, they have been quiet.

Icahn has been vocal on this, making clear via twitter and television what he would like to see apple do, but this is the first time we have heard apple make commentary on how they would like to see the board vote on the issue.

This information is coming out, as it usually does, ahead of an annual meeting.

Apple has to tell us when that meeting aches place early next year what is going to be on the agenda -- when that meeting takes place early next year what is going to be on the agenda.

Apple is going to put it in front of shareholders.

Technically, shareholders could vote in favor of something like this, but it is apple that is saying, "we would suggest that you do not vote in favor of this." is that basically the way to think of this?

That is correct.

This comes out in an sec proxy statement with apple basically saying that they recommend the board not vote to increase the size of the buyback as icahn would like to see.

Apple already has one of the largest buybacks in history in place.

They already have quarterly dividends.

There is a $100 billion row gram in place.

The company feeling is that that is sufficient right now.

-- there is a $100 billion program in place.

They do not see a need for an increase, but they are spending cash and other meaningful ways, including buying a lot of companies.

We have seen a number of technology acquisitions this year from apple, many of which have been under their radar, that have been enhancing their products quite fast, and other things that we think we will see apple do down the line.

We should highlight that in its comments, apple says there are a lot of different ways it uses this money -- to your point, building the business -- in addition to the fact that they already have this significant return of capital plan in place.

You wonder how this will set up among various shareholders.

We recently highlighted the view of one of the most influential pension funds in the country and a major shareholder in apple, which basically said it did not side with carl icahn.

As you well know, we saw an interesting showdown at a freebie is apple shareholder meeting when another activist investor -- david einhorn -- was pushing for them to think a little bit differently about how they return their money.

Can you comment on that?

These guys have been vocal about what they would like to see apple do.

The good news is that five years ago, steve jobs was doing nothing of the sort.

There was no buyback.

There was no -- there were no meaningful dividends.

We have seen charitable giving from the first time -- charitable giving for the first time from the company.

Tim cook is moving in the direction of what shareholders would like to see, but they are not going to be bullied by some of these activist investors.

Icahn is amazing.

He is a legend, but if you wanted something like this done, he should have done it quietly.

I think he would have had a better chance of success if he really wanted apple to increase their buyback.

Apple is not going to relent.

They certainly do not look look -- do not want to look like they are going to relent.

Another big story we are

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