Apple shareholders are furious at the troubled company's refusal to deny Silicon Valley speculation that co-founder Steve Jobs is set to dump all but one of his 1.5 million shares in the firm.
In documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of last week, Apple registered to sell the 1.5 million shares acquired by Jobs as part of Apple?s takeover of his Next Software company in February. The shares make up around 1.19 per cent of outstanding stock and would raise up to $25 million in the planned ?secondary offering,? which will be used to sell them.
News of the registration over the weekend left Apple shareholders confused and annoyed at what many saw as a lack of faith by Jobs in the future of the company. "Jobs' timing is an affront to us long time shareholders and equals the greed initially shown by [Apple chief executive Gil] Amelio," raged one investor. "What is it with these guys?"
In a reply to concerned shareholders, an Apple spokeswoman said: "Jobs has not sold his shares ... this was simply a registration of Jobs' Apple shares, not any type of announcement that he?d sold or was selling his Apple shares." But another spokeswoman refused to rule out the sale of the shares, insisting that it was up to Jobs to comment on his intentions. Jobs made no comment.
The authors of the Apple Recon investors' bulletin board blasted both Jobs and Apple bosses for not killing outright speculation that the company?s co-founder and high profile adviser Aelio might be cashing in his shares. The uncertainty that this would inflict, they argued, will create a ?double whammy?. Apple Recon members are already predicting that third quarter results will be considerably worse than the currently forecast $120 million losses, possibly as high as $400 million.
A statement posted on the Apple Recon Web site makes its own prediction. "As we all know, insiders don?t usually register to sell stock without actually doing it," it says. "There have been a lot of these types of filings where the insiders repeatedly say ?Oh. I?m just doing that to keep my options open, I?m not going to sell. And then ?something changes? and the sales occurs. The only thing that had changed was that people weren?t expecting it anymore."
When Jobs was ousted from Apple in the 1980s, he disposed of his entire stock in the company with the exception of a single share, which he held until his dramatic return to the firm just before Christmas last year.
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