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Apple cash stash dash results in Icahn v CalPERS bitchfight

'We don't think Icahn should be steering the board' ... 'Stop spewing pejoratives' ... Miaow!

Fawlty Towers

Activist investor Carl Icahn has gone to war with the pensioners of California over his bid to get his grubby mitts on Apple's mammoth money pot.

The moneyman wants Apple to launch a $50bn share buyback, which would give shareholders a profitable but brief payday.

But the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), a major pensions investor, thinks differently. It has $1.6bn invested in the fruity firm compared to Icahn's $3.6bn and would like to see a more long term approach.

Anne Simpson, senior portfolio manager of investment at CalPERS, criticised Icahn's "megaphone diplomacy", which has involved launching a barrage of tweets, statements and open letters aimed at getting fruity shareholders to vote for the buyback.

"Now, standing outside and lobbing a brick through a window really is not a sensible way to engage in the conversation. We don't think Carl Icahn, who's a relatively small investor with a very short-term agenda, should be steering the board of Apple, which is a very big company, with a long-term future which many people are relying on," Simpson said.

"I think this is more sound and fury than sensible advice, and what really needs to happen is the long-term owners should be there backing Apple in a rational, sensible and efficient deployment of capital. We don't want the company to be distracted by short-term noise."

Apple has already committed to handing over $100bn to shareholders by 2014, but Icahn wants to see the money sooner. A decision on Icahn's latest suggestion is expected to be held on February 28.

"It's a shame that Anne Simpson is more interested in spewing pejoratives than improving corporate governance in this country, which CalPERS is in a position to do," Icahn said. ®

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