Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has sold his entire multi-billion-dollar investment in Apple shares, citing fears that the "dictatorship" Chinese government could exclude the company from trading there, in turn seriously damaging its finances.
The massive sell-out, which reportedly earned Icahn a profit of $2bn (£1.4bn), comes just days after Apple reported its first drop in quarterly revenue for 13 years and its first-ever fall in iPhone sales, since it first launched nine years ago.
Icahn, who is worth over $20bn, had previously described investing in Apple stock as a "no brainer" and claimed shares would rise to more than $240, more than 100% higher than their current value of $95. At $240 a share, Apple would be valued at $1.4 trillion and would become the first ever trillion-dollar company. Icahn earned his 'activist investor' name after being known for investing heavily in companies before then pressuring them to change.
The 80-year-old investor started pumping his money into Apple in the third quarter of 2013 when its shares were worth around $68 each. At one point in 2015, he owned 53 million shares worth $6.5bn.
But now his position on the company - or rather, his position on Apple's potential in China - has changed. In an interview with CNBC, Icahn praised Apple chief executive Tim Cook for doing a "great job" and that the company's products, such as the iPhone and iPad, are better than the competition.
Icahn went on to say how he fears the Chinese government will "come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there...they're basically in some sense I would say, perhaps benevolent but a benevolent dictatorship. I don't know if benevolent is the right word."
Earlier this week, Apple's iBooks Store and iTunes Movies services were shut down by Chinese regulators, and now Icahn fears the government could move to further limit Apple's ability to do business there. "Could the thing with Apple escalate?" the investor continued. "And if that does, what does that mean to Apple's profits during the interim?"
However, if tensions between Apple and China were to end, Icahn said he would consider reinvesting in the iPhone maker.