Cisco

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shareholders overwhelmingly voted against using the company's big cash reserve to pay a quarterly dividend.

The company's chief financial officer said the vote was in the neighborhood of 10 to 1 against the proposal, which appeared for the first time in the company's history on the ballot of its annual meeting in Santa Clara, Calif.

Company executives reportedly told shareholders that they would prefer to use the roughly $21 billion in cash for buybacks and acquisitions, the notion of which had recently put a buyout premium into a handful of companies seen as potential Cisco targets.

"Most shareholders a year ago would not have talked about dividends at all," CEO John Chambers said, according to wire stories. "In the last six months that has become an issue. If dividends were suddenly not to be double-taxed, then more shareholders would

consider a dividend. If the tax policy were to change, or if more shareholders were to want it, we would listen."