Tim Cook to eco-sceptic shareholders: 'Put up or shut up'

Apple's usually calm and collected CEO Tim Cook is reported to have reacted angrily to suggestions that Apple only act for profit in future.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook has launched a blistering attack on shareholders who questioned the company's eco-friendly ways. Cook has invested heavily in green technology to power Apple's facilities -- more than three quarters of them now run on solar, wind, geothermal or hydro power, up from about a quarter under his predecessor, Steve Jobs. This isn't to the liking of all the company's shareholders however. Some are more interested in making cold, hard cash.

Cook's response? He'd rather they took their money out of Apple, The Mac Observer reports.

The shareholders in question belong to the National Centre for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a conservative think tank based in Washington. At Apple's annual shareholder meeting, the group proposed that the Cupertino company disclose how much its sustainability programs cost. It also asked it to be more transparent about its participation in "certain trade associations and business organisations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability."

The proposal was rejected by Apple shareholders, with just 2.95 per cent voting for it.

Then came the Q&A, and this is when Cook let rip. An NCPPR representative asked Cook to commit to only doing things that were profitable for the company. Cook replied that Apple did many things for reasons other than making a return on investment (ROI).

"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody ROI," Cook said. He said the same about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas. He's also reported to have looked pretty angry.

He then told the NCPPR representative: "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."

The NCPPR has put out a press release in response, headlined: "Tim Cook to Apple Investors: Drop Dead." It quotes Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Centre's Free Enterprise Project as saying: "Mr Cook made it very clear to me that if I, or any other investor, was more concerned with return on investment than reducing carbon dioxide emissions, my investment is no longer welcome at Apple."

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