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Apple splashes the cash on shares and dividends

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What would you do if you had nearly $100bn burning a hole in your pocket? Sadly, it's not a question many of us will ever face, but for Apple it's been a long-standing dilemma.

With sales of iPhones and iPads adding to its ever-growing cash mountain, the technology firm had to do something with all that money.

So today it's announced it will start paying a dividend to shareholders – for the first time since 1995 – and buy back some of its own shares.

The company will pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share from July, and will spend a further $10bn (£6.3bn) buying back its shares in the next financial year, starting from September 30th, 2012.

"We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement.

"You'll see more of all of these in the future.

"Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase programme."

At the end of last year, Apple revealed it had $97.6bn in cash. It expects to use $45bn over the next three years.

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