Real Deal on Icahn’s Backing Off on Apple Inc $50 Billion Buyback Programme

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By Athena Yenko | February 11, 2014 4:53 PM EST

Carl Icahn had given up his demand for Apple Inc.'s $50 billion buyback programme. It may seem like a loss for the billionaire activist.

"We see no reason to persist with our non-binding proposal, especially when the company is already so close to fulfilling our requested repurchase target," Mr. Icahn wrote in the letter.

However, the odds will always be in favour for this 'fool' as it had always been a win-win situation for him, with or without the buyback.

It was not a defeat after all as how Matthew Yglesias at Slate put it, "Icahn is giving up in part because his odds of victory were low but in part because he's already gotten more than half a loaf."

Looking back, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ AAPL) stock is up 11 per cent since mid-August as noted by the Wall Street Journal. Mr Icahn had since bought a "large position" at the company which had acquired approximately $4 billion by January.

It seemed like Mr Icahn was just throwing tantrums when he was very much insistent about the buyback programme to which Apple Inc, like a parent, remained stern in saying "no."

However, after its recent announcement of its fourth-quarter earnings, Apple Inc. had engaged to a buying spree of its stock. And if Apple Inc continues to its buying galore, they will reach that $50 billion buyback that Mr Icahn had been persistent about after all.

As for Don Bilson, head of event-driven research at Gordon Haskett, "The company is essentially doing what Icahn wanted. They'll get to that $50 billion if they keep chugging along," Mr Bilson told Money Beat.

"Not only is [Mr. Icahn] getting his buyback, but management is showing that they are on the same page with him on the issue of buying back shares," said Ken Squire, the founder of 13D Monitor.

A week prior to Mr Icahn's decision, Apple Inc confirmed through the Wall Street Journal that it already had repurchased $14 billion worth of stocks. Mr Cook said that they decided in favour of the buyback because shares had been falling 8 per cent after the company announced its earning.

 "We're trying to build a company for the long term, so that's how we look at these decisions," Mr Cook told WSJ.

As implied with Mr Icahn's final words in his letter by which he said he was  "extremely excited" about Apple's future and that he " share a common optimism with respect to the company's bright long term future," he had gotten what he wanted.

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