After 27 years of marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates said their marriage was irretrievably broken as they filed for divorce in King County in Washington State on Monday. In the absence of a prenup, the announcement left governments, companies, and not-for-profits from around the world with questions about how the fortune will be distributed.
Microsoft remained stable in premarket trading
The news failed to spark volatility in Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) in premarket trading on Tuesday as Bill Gates’ ownership in the company is only around 1.4% that translates to roughly £18.75 billion, compared to his £93.77 billion fortune, which makes him the fourth wealthiest person in the world. At the time of writing, Microsoft Corp is valued at £1.35 trillion and has a price to earnings ratio of 33.75.
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According to TMZ, the couple has signed a “separation contract” that it wants the court to enforce. In the filing on Monday, Bill and Melinda Gates expressed a desire for their personal property, real property, and debts to be split as per the separation contract.
The divorce settlement between Bill and Melinda Gates is expected to be one of the largest in history. In 2019, when MacKenzie Scott parted way with Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, the settlement was worth £27.41 billion that won Scott third place on the list of the world’s richest women.
CNBC’s Robert Frank comments on the news
According to CNBC’s Robert Frank, the bigger impact of the divorce is expected around the family wealth company, Cascade Investment, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Cascade currently boasts over £54.10 billion in holdings, including sizeable stakes in AutoNation, Deere, Canadian National, and Republic Services. With 250 thousand acres of land, Cascade is also the largest farm landowner. Frank said:
“The Gates Foundation is the largest foundation in the world with £36 billion endowment – it gives away £3.61 billion a year. It is no longer a marital asset, so it is not subject to division, but control could become a big issue. While Bill and Melinda Gates said they will continue to work together at the foundation, not-for-profit experts are concerned that it might be difficult for them to agree on how to distribute those funds, what causes to support, who is in charge and how to invest. That could have big impacts on healthcare, education, and environmental policy.”
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