Apple has money in the bank: a lot of it. The iPhone maker, one of the world's most profitable companies, revealed on Tuesday night that its cash holdings have surged to $256.8 billion (NZ$370b), an almost unfathomable sum.

The company's financial reserves have swelled largely because almost all of it is parked offshore, with Apple awaiting a tax holiday that would allow it to bring the money home.

When this happens, Apple is likely to return the cash to shareholders, pay down debt or spend it on some big acquisitions. But if we spare the reality for a second, we can imagine just what US$250b could buy the world's biggest company.

At a retail price of US$649, the iPhone 7 is at the more expensive end of the smartphone market, but Apple has enough cash to buy one 395,685,670 times over.


That's enough to buy everyone in the UK and the US one each - although we imagine Apple would probably be able to wangle a discount on its own phone.

$50 for everyone on the planet

The Population Reference Bureau estimated the world's population at 7.4 billion in August 2016, which is expected to grow to 9.9 billion by 2050.

If Apple split up its US$256.8b and divided it between the world population, that would work out at around US$34.70 each.

15 years of Britain's payments to the EU

Britain pays some £12.9b a year to the EU after accounting for the annual "rebate" that lowers its contributions. A sizeable sum, no doubt, but Apple could finance it for 15 years and four months - well after the UK leaves.

After that, the money would naturally go to the NHS.

These six technology companies

This is one idea that might not be too far from the truth.

Apple is often seen as a potential buyer of Netflix or Tesla should it wish to find new growth areas, but with its cash it would be able to buy both as well as Uber, Snapchat, Twitter and Spotify.

12 Trump border walls

According to a leaked report recently obtained by Reuters, Donald Trump's 1,250-mile border wall will cost as much as $21.6b to build by the time it is completed in 2020.


Apple would be able to buy almost 12 of those walls, equivalent to around 14,500 miles: more than half the earth's circumference.

2,214 Paul Pogbas

Manchester United stunned the footballing world when it paid £89.3m for Paul Pogba last summer, eclipsing the prices paid by Real Madrid for Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Buying the world's most expensive footballer would be a rounding error for Apple. The £8.5 billion of profits in the last quarter meant it earned a Paul Pogba every 23 hours.

Any company in the FTSE 100

Britain's biggest listed company is the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, with a market cap of just over £165b. If Apple ever decided to pivot into oil production, it would be able to buy it with change to spare.

Some of Britain's less valuable but famous names, like Tesco - valued at £15b - could be bought more than 10 times over.

A luxury yacht for every member of staff

Apple has around 115,000 employees across its head office, international offices, stores and so on, so its cash pile could be divided up to give them all around US$2.2m.

That's easily enough to buy everyone a luxury yacht.