Apple's Ahrendts sells $8.7M in stock as Watch launch nears

Angela Ahrendts

Then-Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts speaks at the IHT Heritage Luxury conference in London in 2010. She joined Apple in 2014.

Credit: REUTERS/Paul Hackett

As retail chief's second batch of shares vest, Apple also sets aside $8.8M for taxes

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Apple's head of retail and online sales, Angela Ahrendts, has sold almost 70,000 shares of company stock worth approximately $8.7 million since the first of the month, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

During the same stretch, Apple set aside another 70,000 shares -- valued at $8.8 million -- for tax purposes.

On April 1, 140,126 shares vested for Ahrendts, the second portion of a May 1, 2014, grant given when she started with Apple. Over the next several days, she sold all the allotment's shares remaining after Apple withheld slightly more than half for taxes.

About $5.6 million of the $8.7 million that Ahrendts pocketed was from pre-planned sales under a plan she submitted to the SEC last November.

Last year, Apple awarded Ahrendts, the former CEO of the Burberry clothing company, stock grants that when fully vested had a then-value of up to $78.5 million. That assumes Apple made undisclosed internal targets based on "total shareholder return" (TSR), a combination of share price appreciation and dividends.

Much of Ahrendts' stock award was to replace the equity she had in Burberry before leaving for Apple, but the latter also provided what it called "new hire RSUs" in previous filings. It was essentially a signing bonus, but in future stock equity. Apple usually awards major new hires with similar deals of RSUs, or Restricted Stock Units.

Analysts have said that Apple hired Ahrendts away from Burberry to revitalize and revamp Apple's retail business, and to expand its footprint in Asia, where the company has relatively few brick-and-mortar stores. Apple has just 18 stores in China, with another set to open April 24, the Apple Watch on-sale date.

In January, Apple said it was on track to have 40 stores in its "Greater China" sales region by mid-2016. The sales area, which includes the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, currently will have 22 outlets by the end of this month.

Ahrendts' biggest test so far in her 11 months at Apple starts tomorrow, when the Apple Watch -- Apple's first major new product since the 2010 iPad -- hits pre-order status and will be shown at retail. The sales process for the Watch has been markedly different than past new product launches, with the company today confirming that orders will be online only and simultaneously warning customers that it will not meet the initial demand with current inventory.

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