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Icahn prods Apple for stock buyback

– Activist investor Carl Icahn has told Apple CEO Tim Cook that the iPhone and iPad maker should launch a $150 billion stock buyback immediately and disclosed that he now owns 4.7 million shares in the company.

In a letter to Cook posted online Thursday, Icahn said he has increased his stake in Apple by 22 percent from 3.9 million at the end of September.

At Apple’s current stock price, that’s worth about $2.5 billion and amounts to less than a 1 percent stake in the company. He plans to increase his stake.

Icahn wants Apple to launch the buyback at its current stock price, which closed at close to $525 Wednesday when the letter was sent. He stressed that he does not plan to tender any of his shares in the buyback he is proposing.

“There is nothing short term about my intentions here,” he wrote. Over the long term, Icahn said he expects Apple’s stock price to increase to $1,250 if the company goes through with the buyback as proposed.

The highest point that the stock has ever reached was in $705.07, last September.

A representative for Apple did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

Icahn said he wants to make it clear that he supports Cook and Apple’s current management team, as well as Apple’s culture and “innovative spirit it engenders.” It’s just that he believes that Apple’s current buyback plan – $60 billion over three years – is too small.

Shares of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple closed Thursday at $525, up $6.95.

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