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Icahn rallies the troops to pump Apple for cash at next shareholder meeting

Wants a vote on $50bn stock buyback scheme

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Wall Street tycoon Carl Icahn hasn't given up on his quest to have Apple return some of its $150bn cash stockpile to investors, and he now wants Cupertino's shareholders to vote on the idea.

Icahn has spent the last few months pestering Apple CEO Tim Cook to spend the company's cash reserves on a stock buyback program that would plump the value of its shares, allowing Icahn and other big investors to reap the rewards.

So far, Cook hasn't seemed amenable. And even though Icahn currently owns around $2.7bn of Apple stock, that only translates into a 0.5 per cent stake, meaning Icahn's voice alone doesn't carry much weight in Cupertino.

But Icahn is betting he's not the only one in favor of his stock buyback plan, and he's asked other shareholders to weigh in on the proposal.

In an interview with Time magazine, Icahn said he filed a shareholder proposal requesting a vote on the plan on November 26, just three days before the deadline for Apple's next shareholder meeting.

On Wednesday, Icahn confirmed via Twitter that he plans to call for a vote as a precatory proposal, meaning that the results would not be binding. Even if the majority of Apple shareholders agreed with Icahn, Apple's board would not be compelled to comply with their wishes.

Icahn further said that he no longer intends to ask Apple to use the full $60bn on the stock buyback scheme. A source with knowledge of Icahn's plans told CNBC that his new figure is $50bn.

Cook is still unlikely to agree to his plan, however – mainly because Apple already has a share-buyback plan in place. In April, the company said it would return up to $100bn to its shareholders, in what it has described as "the largest share repurchase authorization in history." But for Icahn, it seems, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing.

Apple will announce the date of its next annual shareholder meeting – during which Icahn's proposal may be addressed – when it files its 2014 Proxy Statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Its last shareholder meeting took place on February 27, 2013. ®

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