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Why Steve Jobs Approved Tim Cook's 'New' Pay Structure

Stocks in this article: AAPL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A circus has been created lately around Apple's (AAPL) seemingly endless death.

The "grim reaper" is somehow always around the corner in Cupertino, Calif. and was last spotted glancing over Tim Cook's "new" compensation package and wondering whether Steve Jobs would have approved of it. My gut says that he did. Let's go over the details of Apple's new "poison pill."

A recent Apple filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that Apple has made changes to Tim Cook's restricted stock unit award -- making it the main driver of Cook's compensation as CEO. The filing states:

"Effective June 21, 2013, the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors of Apple Inc. approved the amendment of the restricted stock units awarded on August 24, 2011 to Timothy D. Cook, the Company's Chief Executive Officer. The amendment does not change the original grant date fair value of Mr. Cook's award as originally reported in the Company's Proxy Statement filed with the SEC on January 9, 2012. It does, however, align Mr. Cook's potential realizable compensation from the award with Company performance, and reflects the Committee's intent to have a portion of future equity awards be performance-based for the Company's executive officers, and for Mr. Cook to lead by example."

First and foremost, let's understand that this is not a "new policy" that Apple has taken. Those who are proclaiming "Apple's death" and insisting that Steve Jobs is "turning over in his grave" because of this "new" pay structure must now acknowledge that Steve Jobs just might have signed off on this. The filing clearly states that this is an amendment, a term that typically means that a declaration (of sorts) already existed.

Further, the date on the document says that the original agreement was drawn on August 24, 2011, almost three months before Steve Jobs' death. And there's no debate that Jobs picked Cook as his successor. I'm not as skilled as others are in speaking on what Steve Jobs "would have done," but I'm inclined to believe that he would have been consulted on Cook's pay structure and subsequently signed off on it.

So, the idea that Apple's culture is suddenly falling apart because Cook has agreed to adjust his pay is complete nonsense. I say "agree" here because (again) there already was an existing agreement, so he didn't have to accept the amendment, and he wasn't forced to accept it.

Before we continue, let's not pretend that anger over CEO compensation, at any company, is a new issue -- it's not.

What CEO's are paid has been a hot topic for as long as I can remember. Not too long ago we were complaining about how the American taxpayer saw his or her money being used to bail out companies and banks that were on the brink of failure. The government was perceived as rewarding companies for poor performance because they were "too big to fail."

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