Bill Gates sells $925M in Microsoft stock, still owns $13.6B worth

Sells another 20M shares, but his reduced holdings are worth more now than three months ago

Bill Gates 2013 Germany
Credit: Thinkstock

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sold 20 million company shares in late October, but thanks to market gains in the past three months, his portfolio was worth more than when he last sold stock, regulatory filings showed.

In the five days from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $45.92 to $46.76 for a total of $925 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

At the end of his latest sales stretch, Gates owned 278 million shares worth about $13.6 billion at Monday's closing price. When Gates sold stock in early August, his remaining portfolio of 298 million shares was then worth approximately $12.9 billion.

The increase in the value of Gate's holdings -- the sale of about 7% of his portfolio notwithstanding -- was due to the 12.7% gain that Microsoft shares have posted since early August.

Gates, former CEO and chairman, has been selling approximately 80 million shares annually -- usually 20 million each quarter -- for more than a decade in a long-standing plan to fund the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If Gates continues that pace, he will exhaust his Microsoft holdings in just under four years.

Gates ceded the title of largest Microsoft shareholder in April, when his holdings dipped under that of ex-CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, whose last transaction recorded with the SEC was Aug. 19, had 333 million shares on that date, worth $16.3 billion at Monday's closing price if he has not sold any since.

Ballmer resigned from the Microsoft board of directors on Aug. 19, severing his last official connection with the company. Ballmer said other commitments -- including his new ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team -- would occupy his time.

The Clippers played their first regular season game on Oct. 30, a 93-90 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Unlike Gates, Ballmer has repeatedly pledged to hold onto his Microsoft stock. "I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can," Ballmer said in his August resignation letter to CEO Satya Nadella.

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