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Jobs: I'll decide what to do with Apple's $40bn cash pile

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Steve Jobs has told shareholders not to complain about the Mac maker's $40bn and growing cash mountain as he could decide to do something interesting with it at any time.

Shareholders usually get antsy when companies cash piles grow too large, and start demanding execs do something to return the value to... them. Share repurchases, special dividends and the like are favoured ways to do this.

Alternatively companies are forced to do something to create even more value - such as buying another firm - though this doesn't always deliver value.

Either way, Jobs reckons he's the best person to decide what to do with his the firm's Smaugian golden pile.

According to Reuters, Jobs told Apple's shareholders' meeting this week, "We're a large enough business now, that in order to really move the needle, we've got to be thinking pretty bold, pretty large. And who knows what's around the next corner.

"When we think about big, bold things, we know that if we needed to acquire something, a piece of the puzzle, to make something big and bold a reality, we could write a check for it."

One analyst told the news firm that he didn't actually expect Apple to make a big acquisition. "There simply isn't a business out there that would be a cultural fit with them. They're not like other companies," said Hudson Square analyst Daniel Ernst, who reckoned Jobs was referring to the way the money mountain allowed Apple to take chances with its products. Which makes sense with the iPad coming down the pipe.

Of course, Jobs may have something else in mind. Perhaps Cupertino is getting too crowded for Apple, and a new HQ might be in order. A flip top volcanic island for example, or a mountain fastness hardened against product strategy leaks.

Perhaps the firm is contemplating a chain of extra-Earth Apple stores to catch the nascent space tourism trade, and simultaneously provide a sort of off-planet Devil's Island for PRs and partners foolish enough to talk to the press.

Who knows. With that kind of cash, the sky is almost the limit. What do you think? ®

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