Pimco's Gross tells Icahn to leave Apple alone

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 24, 2013 11:10 AM
Pimco's Gross tells Icahn to leave Apple alone

By Jennifer Ablan and Katya Wachtel

(Reuters) - Bill Gross, the co-chief investment officer at bond giant Pimco, lambasted billionaire investor Carl Icahn on Thursday for his involvement in Apple Inc's strategy, but he failed to elicit an equally biting response from the veteran activist.

Gross said on Twitter: "Icahn should leave #Apple alone & spend more time like Bill Gates. If #Icahn's so smart, use it to help people not yourself."

Icahn on Thursday, in a public letter to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, called on Apple to immediately commence a $150 billion share buyback.

In responding to questions on CNBC about criticism from Gross and former Apple CEO John Sculley, Icahn was relatively low key and respectful of Gross.

"I have respect for both those guys. I think Bill Gross certainly has a right to his opinion, as does Sculley," Icahn said. "But it doesn't mean they are right."

"I'm not going to criticize them," he added.

It was a stark contrast to how he has handled questions about hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and his big short bet on nutritional supplements company Herblalife, which Icahn has taken the other side of.

Earlier this year Icahn and Ackman got into a verbal shouting match on CNBC, with Icahn at one point referring to Ackman as a "crybaby."

His response to Gross's suggestion that he should spend more time like Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder known for his philanthropic efforts, was far less controversial.

"I think the greatest use of my time would be to try to change the laws and rules in corporate governance today," Icahn said.

Icahn's letter on Thursday, issued in conjunction with his new website "Shareholders Square Table," comes after Icahn urged Cook this summer to use Apple's $150 billion in cash to buy back company shares.

(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by James Dalgleish and Steve Orlofsky)