In a Form 8-K filing today, Apple announced that it would be paying out dividends to employees with restricted stock units. It originally announced plans to pay out a dividend and institute a $45M stock buyback program in March.
Restricted stock units are shares awarded to employees that are not allowed to be sold before a certain time has been reached.
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The payout will be to the tune of $2.65 per share to employees with RSUs, making for a hefty raise, especially for executives with large chunks of shares. Since RSUs are generally given to executives as incentives for continued employment and performance, the employees to benefit the most from this new plan will be Apple executives.
The Committee determined these amendments were appropriate in light of the Company’s announcement on March 19, 2012 that it intends to commence paying ordinary cash dividends of $2.65 per share to its shareholders on a quarterly basis sometime during the fourth quarter of its 2012 fiscal year. As restricted stock units are not outstanding shares of common stock and thus would not otherwise be entitled to participate in such dividends, the crediting of dividend equivalents is intended to preserve the equity-based incentives intended by the Company when the awards were granted and to treat the award holders consistently with shareholders.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has declined to participate, giving up approximately $75M in equivalent value. Cook was the highest compensated CEO in 2011, with a pay package equating to $378M at the time it was awarded. However, the package consisted largely of 1 million shares of Apple stock that cannot be sold before 2016 or 2021.
At Mr. Cook’s request, none of his restricted stock units will participate in dividend equivalents. Assuming a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share over the vesting periods of his 1.125 million outstanding restricted stock units, Mr. Cook will forego approximately $75 million in dividend equivalent value.
In March, Apple initiated its first dividend in many years, which begins on July 1st, 2012. It had already authorized a $10B share buyback program, initiating on September 30, 2012, the beginning of its fiscal 2013.