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Carl Icahn says he'd 'never' push Apple to buy Nuance, only wants increased share buyback

Though billionaire Carl Icahn owns considerable stakes in both Apple and Nuance Communications, the investor revealed this week he has no plans to push for a marriage between the two companies, despite their existing partnerships.


Icahn spoke this week at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit, where he was asked about the prospect of spurring a deal between the two parties. Such speculation has existed among investors for months, given Icahn's reputation as an activist investor and his 16.4 percent stake in Nuance— a company whose technology is a key component behind Apple's voice-driven personal assistant, Siri.

"That is something I would never micromanage and never even think of telling (Apple Chief Executive) Tim Cook," Icahn said, according to Reuters. "It has zero to do with the fact that I'm involved in Apple."

He then went on to say that he feels he has neither "the expertise or the presumption to say I have the expertise to tell him to do that," giving a rather definitive stance on the issue.

The investor has a history of causing trouble with tech companies, most famously opposing Michael Dell's efforts to take PC maker Dell private. He also won three seats on the Yahoo Board of Directors, and is credited with helping to oust the CEO of Motorola, essentially forcing the company into the arms of Google.


But his interest in Apple has been in encouraging its executive team to spend $150 billion in share buybacks. Apple already has a buyback program in place, but Icahn believes the company's shares are extremely undervalued, and that an increased buyback would return more to investors such as himself.

Icahn revealed in October that he had at the time 4.7 million shares of AAPL stock, up from a previous total of 4 million. That would give him nearly $2.5 billion stake in the company at its current value.

The investor has gone as far as to suggest that he will consider pushing for a shareholder proxy vote, if Apple's executive team rejects his proposal and investors in the company show enough interest. He's said he believes Cook is doing a good job as CEO and shouldn't be replaced, but he wouldn't say the same for the rest of the company's board of directors.