By Noel Randewich
CUPERTINO, Calif. Feb 23 Apple Inc
on Thursday adopted a measure long desired by investors
and corporate governance activists, granting its shareholders a
bigger say in the appointment of directors to the board of the
world's largest technology company.
Chief Executive Tim Cook also repeated that he has been
"thinking very deeply" about investors' demands that the
consumer electronics company return some of its $98 billion in
cash and securities to shareholders via a dividend.
On Thursday, Apple finally acceded to demands from U.S.
pension fund Calpers and other major investors that it require
unopposed directors to secure a majority-share vote before
getting elected to the board.
That move came after shareholders last year, in a rare show
of activism for a group often content with the iPad and iPhone
maker's sizzling growth and lofty share price, voted in favor of
a similar proposal despite Apple's recommendation they reject
Calpers, the largest U.S. pension fund, has long sought
support for such a measure to be adopted at scores of other U.S.
At Thursday's annual shareholders meeting in Cupertino,
executives said directors who do not manage to secure a majority
vote to voluntarily resign their positions.
Thursday's meeting comes days after Apple touched a lifetime
high of $526.29, cementing its ranking as the most valuable U.S.
company with over $450 billion in market capitalization.
Some analysts say the stock may even scale new heights next
month, when the company is expected to unveil a new version of
its best-selling iPad.
Away from Wall Street, Cook continues to grapple with issues
such as its ballooning pile of cash and securities, and negative
publicity surrounding working conditions at the company's
manufacturing partners in China.
Apple has been trying to direct the spotlight on its efforts
to urge partners to treat their employees better.