Apple employees who hold restricted stock (RSU) are being awarded dividend equivalent payments, except for Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has declined to take the dividend equivalents that would have given him $75 million in dividend payments.
The company announced in March that it would pay out a dividend and start buying back shares before the end of its fourth quarter of the 2012 fiscal year. According to a new SEC filing, Apple's Board of Directors has now approved amendments to restricted stock so that dividends can be now paid to staff. "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." The fourth quarter begins on 1 July.
Restricted stock is usually awarded to employees to encourage them to stay at a company and is not fully transferable until certain conditions have been met. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook was awarded 1 million RSUs upon his promotion to CEO last year, half those shares vest in 5 years, and the other half in 10 - should he leave before that time he would forgo those shares. Restricted stock can also be tied into performance, such as the company reaching earnings per share goals or financial targets. Restricted stock is similar to stock options, but convert directly into shares of stock upon vesting.
According to Apple's SEC filing, Cook has declined the dividend equivalents, which would have given him $75 million in dividend payments. The filing reads: "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."
The location of the employee will determine the 'payment' of the dividend: "Depending on the domicile of the employee, accumulated dividend equivalents will either be paid in cash or used to offset employee taxes due upon vesting of the restricted stock units," states Apple's filing.