Apple moves to lock up top talent

Company awards $60 million in restricted shares to half-dozen top executives

In a bid to ensure stability and continuity following the death last month of co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple has awarded $60 million in restricted stock to each of six top executives.

In separate filings last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company announced it was granting 150,000 shares each to:

* Peter Oppenheimer, chief financial officer

* Bruce Sewell, general counsel

* Scott Forstall, SVP of iPhone software

* Philip Schiller, chief marketing officer

* Bob Mansfield, SVP of hardware engineering

* Jeffrey Williams, SVP of operations

For each of the above grantees, half of the restricted shares vest in June 2013, while the rest vest in March 2016.

At Monday's closing price (NASDAQ: AAPL) of 399.73, those restricted shares are worth $60 million to each executive. Let's assume that Apple shares, which hit an all-time high on Oct. 17, lose one-third of their value between now and March 2016. That's still $40 million for toughing it out for 4 1/2 years. You'd have to be going through an epic mid-life crisis to walk away from that payout.

Another Apple executive, Eddie Cue, SVP of Internet software and services -- which includes, by the way, iCloud and the App Store -- received 100,000 restricted shares. Don't worry, he's not getting hosed: Cue was awarded 100,000 other restricted shares in September, when he moved up to SVP.

In late August, after Jobs permanently stepped down as CEO, Apple awarded his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook, 1 million restricted shares that don't fully vest until August 2021, when Cook will be 60 years old. At today's stock price, those restricted shares are worth about $400 million.

So the guy groomed by Jobs to replace him as CEO is on board for the next decade (unless he's willing to walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars), and his top lieutenants appear to be locked in for almost five years.

Remember when Apple was being criticized for not having a succession plan?

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