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Apple chief thinks about his MOUNTAIN OF CASH a lot

Cook's not dishing out surplus dough

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Apple has given in to shareholder pressure on director voting, but is still thinking about what to do with its vast mountain range of cash.

The fruity firm is sitting on $98bn, which in single dollar bills is roughly equivalent to 45 Olympic swimming pools stuffed with notes or half of a regular-sized supertanker groaning with moolah.

Understandably, shareholders have been starting to wonder if they'll ever see any of these extensive reserves as Apple hasn't paid out a dividend since 1995.

Pundits were speculating before this year's shareholder meeting, held in California yesterday, that Apple might relent on the dividend issue, particularly since the company's stocks hit an incredible high of $526.29 a few days beforehand, valuing the firm at $450bn.

Cook told the meeting that he had been pondering the money pile a lot.

"We've been thinking about cash very deeply," he said, according to Reuters. "Frankly speaking, it's more than we need to run the company."

However, he did not say: "Here's some cash, faithful fanbois."

Apple did bend to some shareholder pressure when it agreed that unopposed directors would need to bag a majority-share vote before they could be elected to the board, a concession US pension fund Calpers and other big stockholders had been looking for.

Calpers, which holds 2.8 million shares in Apple as of December last year, released a statement after the meeting saying that it "applauded" the decision.

“Apple has honoured the wishes of its shareowners with this decision,” Anne Simpson, Calpers senior portfolio manager, said in the canned statement. “We strongly commend the board for adopting this good governance measure and for giving its shareowners a voice in the election process.”

Cupertino said it had been resisting the move, which had been proposed by stockholders before, because of the legal complications.

"But this is Apple and we don't let complexity get in our way," Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell said at the meeting.

While Apple is riding high on the market, it has faced fierce criticism over the treatment of workers at factories in China, particularly those of manufacturing partner Foxconn.

Reuters reported that there were a small number of protesters outside the meeting, but inside none of the shareholders raised the issue. ®

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