Does the company have a responsibility to reinvest all of it? Can a company have a lot of money just sitting around? Is that grounds for shareholders to sue? If a company has a lot of money just sitting around, can they opt to give a portion of it to shareholders as a one-time thing?

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    I think Apple company is exactly in this situation. But more important, it is very necessary to have such "reserve", the more you have the less the probability of failure is. But of course, if you have too much, shareholders may be angry... Dec 15, 2017 at 10:14

3 Answers 3


It doesn't go anywhere. It stays in the company as undistributed profit.

If the company has too much cash and no opportunities to invest it in further growth, it can be harmful to the company's return on equity.

Therefore typically the company will sooner or later choose to distribute it to shareholders either in the form of (regular or extraordinary) dividends or share buybacks.

If enough shareholders are unhappy with the company's dividend policy or the way the company is managed, they can vote to change the management at the shareholder meeting.

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    If enough of the right shareholders are unhappy then yes. However at least in the US there are a bunch of tricks that allow regular shareholders to be effectively disenfranchised. Dec 15, 2017 at 3:08
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    If normal small-time shareholders are unhappy, they sell the stock, thereby driving the price down. That is usually not seen as a good thing by management. Dec 15, 2017 at 8:35
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    @ErwinBolwidt Is a bunch of small-time shareholders selling their small-time holdings really going to affect the share price by a noticeable amount? Dec 15, 2017 at 15:30
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    @DavidRicherby Would said company care about a bunch of small-time shareholders disagreeing with their profit distribution? If they're small time, presumably they represent a minority voice.
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 15, 2017 at 17:23

They may keep the cash sitting in a bank somewhere as a cash reserve. They may invest it in stocks or bonds in other companies or in government units. They may invest in new factories or equipment. They may pay down debt. Etc.

Do they have a "responsibility" to do anything in particular with it? In a sense. A corporation has a legal, fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders. If they are using money unwisely, yes, shareholders could sue the board of directors. Of the top of my head I don't know of any cases where shareholders sued because a company kept too large a cash reserve. I'd guess that would be a tough case to win because it's so subjective. Usually to win a shareholder suit you have to claim that management is doing something unethical or criminal, I think.


To add to other answers... If the company is publicly traded, there is another good reason why keeping large amounts of money sat in the bank is a bad idea, and shareholders may consider this a harmful strategy by the board.

A competitor may try to buy enough shares to gain control over the board and force a takeover. So far, so normal. However, if the competitor knows that the company has a large amount of money in the bank, they can take out loans for much larger sums (or invest more of their own money) in the knowledge that this will be paid back when they get control of the company and the cash reserves sat in the company bank account. Essentially, they can finance the company takeover with the company's own money.

If the board is leaving the company open to this kind of tactic, shareholders who want to keep control of the company as-is should be very concerned.

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    Unless the stock price is really high, all that cash was earned overseas, and to repatriate it means having to pay corporate sales tax on it.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 15, 2017 at 13:23

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