Business

Icahn retreats from Apple battle on stock buybacks

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SAN FRANCISCO — Activist investor Carl Icahn is retreating from his battle with Apple’s board of directors, ending a high-profile campaign to pressure the iPhone maker into spending more money to buy back its stock.

The about-face outlined in an Icahn letter to Apple’s shareholders figures to turn the company’s Feb. 28 annual meeting into a more sedate affair.

Icahn had been trying to drum up support for a nonbinding proposal urging Apple Inc. to spend at least $50 billion buying back its shares during the fiscal year ending in September. The idea faced mounting opposition from stockholders who supported the company’s board.

To hit Icahn’s target, Apple’s board would have had to increase the volume of stock buybacks authorized under a program unveiled last year. That plan allows Apple to spend $60 billion on its stock through December 2015. The company only had $37 billion left for stock purchases under that plan as it began the fiscal year.

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