Corporate governance: Anything you can do, Icahn do better

TIM COOK’S nightmare is over, but John Donahoe’s has just begun. On February 10th Carl Icahn, the godfather of activist shareholders, ended his campaign to get Mr Cook, the boss of Apple, to return some of its $160 billion cash mountain to shareholders through share buy-backs. Mr Icahn declared victory, although Apple is not handing back as much of its cash as he had wanted. His next target is eBay, which he is pressuring to spin off PayPal, its online-payments business. Mr Donahoe, eBay’s boss, has told Mr Icahn to get lost, but surely knows he cannot brush off the pugilistic investor so easily.A visit from an activist shareholder is now a possibility for any publicly traded company: if not the 77-year-old Mr Icahn, then one of the growing army of younger imitators he has inspired. Mr Cook was first put under pressure to “stop hoarding cash” last year by David Einhorn, boss of Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund. Having shaken up Yahoo’s management and strategy in 2012, Dan Loeb and his fund, Third Point, have turned their attention to Sony, calling for it to separate its electronics and entertainment arms; to Sotheby’s, an auction house they want to repurchase…

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