Google’s parent company Alphabet has overtaken Apple to become the most cash-rich company in the world. The Financial Times reports that as of the second quarter of this year, Alphabet holds $117 billion in liquid reserves, compared to $102 billion, net of debt, for Apple.
Despite the obvious benefits of hoarding so much cash, earning the title of “Cash Kings” might not give much cause for celebration. As the FT notes, such a conspicuous display of wealth could increase pressure from shareholders who’d like to see the company spend more of its money on share buybacks or dividends, and could lead to increased scrutiny from regulators concerned with Google’s dominance. Google and its parent company have been hit with €8.2 billion (around $9.05 billion) in antitrust fines by the EU in the past two years, and the company is also facing heavy scrutiny by US lawmakers.
Apple played a significant role in the change in leadership by actively reducing its liquidity. Since 2017, the iPhone manufacturer’s reserves have fallen by $61 billion from its $163 billion peak, with Apple taking advantage of US tax reforms to repatriate overseas reserves and pay it out to investors. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s cash reserves have risen by $20 billion over the same period, despite heavy investment in real estate as the company buys up space for offices and data centers.
The cash title aside, obtaining the title of “most valuable company” remains elusive for Alphabet. Apple was first to hit the milestone in August last year, but since then its market cap has slipped. Apple has now been overtaken by both Amazon and Microsoft, the latter of which is the only company to currently have a market cap above 1 trillion dollars.