As Apple's annual shareholder meeting approaches, some big investors are waging an increasingly public and heated fight over what the tech behemoth should do with its massive cash hoard.
Activist investor Carl Icahn is waging a proxy fight to push the Apple board to use a substantial part of its $158 billion cash reserve to buy back company shares, thus boosting the stock price.
While the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest state public pension fund in the country, which owns $1.6 billion in Apple stock—dismisses Icahn's strategy as short-term thinking that won't help the company create new and innovative products.
Apple declined to comment.
This fight is becoming public as Apple nears the annual shareholder meeting on Feb. 28, and the company is recommending that shareholders reject Icahn's proposal. (Still, Apple has committed to returning $100 billion to shareholders, just over a longer period of time than Icahn proposes.)
Anne Simpson, senior portfolio manager of investment at CalPERS, agrees with Apple's plans and takes exception to Icahn's activist investing approach.
"Now, standing outside and lobbing a brick through a window really is not a sensible way to engage in the conversation. We don't think Carl Icahn, who's a relatively small investor with a very short-term agenda, should be steering the board of Apple, which is a very big company, with a long-term future which many people are relying on," Simpson told CNBC.
And Icahn is firing back at Simpson, saying that she is misguided.
"It's a shame that Anne Simpson is more interested in spewing pejoratives than improving corporate governance in this country, which CalPERS is in a position to do," Icahn, chairman of Icahn Enterprises, told CNBC in an exclusive interview.
He went on to say his activist investment style has been highly successful and it's critical to keep pressure on companies to make them accountable to shareholders. Icahn, for his part, doesn't appreciate the assertion that he's a short-term investor.