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Billionaire investor Carl Icahn sells off Apple shares

The activist investor says China is to blame.

Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn

Richard Levine/Corbis

Carl Icahn has hung up on the maker of the iPhone.

The billionaire investor said he had sold his stake in Apple, citing concerns over China. The Chinese government could "come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there," he said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday.

Icahn, an activist investor who has publicly brawled with Dell, eBay and Netflix, began buying Apple shares in August 2013. He met with Apple CEO Tim Cook several times and was a vocal advocate of pushing the company to do bigger stock buybacks.

Earlier this week, Apple said it was increasing its spending on buybacks by 25 percent, to $175 billion. The company also reported its first-ever drop in iPhone sales and an overall sales drop in Greater China of 26 percent.

Icahn had owned a little less than a percent of Apple, which has a market capitalization of $526 billion. He said he made roughly $2 billion on his investment and called the stock "cheap," a position he had previously stated.