The activist investor declared victory today as he abandoned his campaign for a shareholder resolution that appeared headed for defeat. His proposal calling for a larger stock buyback — he put $50B as a good target for 2014 — isn’t necessary following “recent actions taken by the company to aggressively repurchase shares in the market,” he writes in an open letter to fellow Apple investors. The company recently bought $14B of stock in just two weeks, influential proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services observed in a new report urging Apple stockholders to oppose Icahn’s resolution at the company’s February 28 annual meeting. ISS noted that Apple’s on track to buy $32B of its stock this year which means Icahn “only asks the board to spend another $18 billion on repurchases in the current year.” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also said that he planned to vote the city-owned shares against the resolution. The billionaire says that while he’s “disappointed” with ISS’ recommendation, “we do not altogether disagree.” As a result, he says, “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.” Icahn praises Apple chief Tim Cook’s efforts to boost the stock price and says that the CEO and the company board appear to agree that Apple’s “extremely undervalued, and we all share a common optimism with respect to the company’s bright long-term future.” Icahn owns about $3.6B of Apple shares. The stock price is up about 1.3% in early trading.
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