Behind the divorce between Bill and Melinda Gates, surprisingly announced on Twitter on Monday evening, there is a fortune estimated at 146 billion dollars by the Bloomberg Billionaire Index and a foundation that since 2000, when it was launched, has distributed 55 billion and currently has assets of 49.8 billion thanks to annual donations from entrepreneurs and philanthropists, including Warren Buffett, considered one of the most successful investors in the world. With Buffett, 90, founder and CEO of the Berkshire Hathaway group, Bill Gates created the Giving Pledge, an initiative that engages the richest people on the planet to donate the majority of their wealth for charitable purposes. In addition to Mr and Mrs Gates and Buffett, among others Mark Zuckerberg and his wives Priscilla (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Marco Bonioff (Salesforce.com), former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mackenzie Scott, after the divorce from Jeff Bezos, who instead did not join the initiative, despite being the richest man in the world with almost 200 billion dollars.
The question that now everyone is asking: after the divorce between Bill and Melinda, what will happen to their wealth? And what effect will it have on their charitable initiatives? Bill Gates, 65, co-founder of Microsoft; Melinda Gates, 56, a former Microsoft manager, rose to international prominence with her husband managing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the most powerful non-profit organizations in the world, active in the fight against poverty and diseases such as malaria, in Poorer countries.
In their Twitter message, the couple states that over the past 27 years, in addition to raising three incredible children, they have built a foundation that works around the world to enable people to lead healthy and productive lives and will continue to work together with the foundation, even though in the next phase of their lives they don’t believe they can grow up together as a couple.
In a note, the Gates foundation made it known that Bill and Melinda will remain co-presidents and trustees of the foundation. And there are no changes to their roles or organization, but they will continue to work together to shape and approve the strategies and support the foundation’s initiatives, setting the overall direction of the organization, reads the spokesperson’s statement published by Bloomberg.
So nothing’s going to change for the charities, at least for now. Marriage experts believe that even in amicable divorces there is a tendency to divide foundations in two, to have more autonomy in making choices. IS the same happens for family offices who manage the assets.
According to the US gossip site TMZ, which defines the marriage broken as irreparably, the couple has a separation agreement, attached to the divorce petition filed with King County. Bill Gates’ wealth originates from Microsoft, but now the tech firm’s shares make up less than 20% of his wealth, as the vast majority of the stake has been transferred to the Foundation over the years. Today Gates would keep about 1% of Microsoft’s capital, although the exact share hasn’t been revealed since leaving Microsoft’s board of directors last year.
The Gates’ largest asset is now Cascade Investment, a holding company which it created with proceeds from Microsoft stock sales and dividends, managed by Michael Larson. Through Cascade, Gates has interests in real estate, energy and hospitality, as well as interests in dozens of public companies, including Canadian National Railway and Deere & Co. More recently Bill Gates became a major advocate for fighting climate change, a topic on which he recently published a book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. The couple paid off last year $ 43 million for an oceanfront home near San Diego.
Melinda, in addition to her work for the foundation, where she mainly deals with the rights of women and girls, in 2015 he founded an investment company called Pivotal Ventures to support groups that promise to advance social progress.
Washington State imposes a 90-day cooling-off period from the day a couple initially files for divorce before the trial can be finalized by a judge. The couple’s divorce proceedings, indicating Melinda as the applicant and Bill as the adherent, with the signing of both, asks the court to dissolve their marriage on a date indicated in their separation agreement.
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