Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer sold off 12 per cent of his sharing-holding in the company over the weekend – but he’s only doing it to diversify his investments and save a few pounds on tax not becasue he thinks Microsoft is finished.
The CEO sold off almost 50million of his shares in the software giant over the past three days at in-or-around $27 a share. That’s about a $1.35billion cash boost for the billionaire, give or take a few dollars here or there. The 50million shares represented about 12 per cent of Ballmers stake in Microsoft, which according to the latest Microsoft proxy report, was 408million shares prior to the sell-off.
Ballmer moved quickly to allay any investor fears that he had lost confidence in the company by issuing a statement to say he was selling off his shares before the end of 2010 to diversify his investments and plan for taxes.
In a statement on the company website, Ballmer said: “I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people's lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success.”
The sell-off did not significantly affect the price of Microsoft shares over the weekend with the share price at $26.85 this morning. However Ballmer is planning on selling another 25million shares before the end of the year.
Ballmer is the second largest shareholder behind chairman and co-founder Bill Gates. The pair clashed in recent times over a proposed bill to increase taxes on incomes and dividends to pay for better schools and healthcare in the state of Washington. Gates supported it while Ballmer opposed Bill and 'the' bill – to the tune of $400,000.
The Bill was defeated last week but the reason behind Ballmer’s sell-off could be the possibility that tax breaks for the wealthiest US citizens could lapse in 2011 leaving them facing severely increased tax bills next year.