Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates told regulators Wednesday he planned to raise $67 million through the sale of a small stake in the software company he co-founded.
Although that amount is boggling to most people, analyst Jeff Tarter described the sale as "walking around money" and not unusual for Gates, whose net worth has been estimated to be around $7 billion.Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and former company director Jon A. Shirley also filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating their intention to sell small portions of their holdings. A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company considers the transactions private and declined comment.
Tarter, editor of SoftLetter, a Watertown, Mass.-based computer industry newsletter, said Gates occasionally sells small pieces of his massive holdings in Microsoft, the largest maker of PC software.
"I don't think he's bailing out," Tarter said.
A spokesman for Lehman Brothers Inc. of New York, a firm specializing in trading of Microsoft shares on the Nasdaq stock market, said Gates historically has sold small portions of his holdings and the SEC filing didn't indicate unusual activity.
The SEC documents showed Gates intended to sell a total of 1.2 million shares in the Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft on Aug. 18 and Aug. 19, and the filings indicated that a portion of the trades were executed. The overall market value of the shares, which Gates acquired in 1981 several years before the company went public, were $67.3 million, documents said.
Company insiders are required to tell the SEC about sales of certain stock exceeding 500 shares or valued at more than $10,000.
The documents didn't indicate how many shares of Microsoft Gates currently holds. As of May 9, Gates held 149.4 million shares in Microsoft, or about 24 percent of the outstanding common shares.
Tarter said Gates can't sell large portions of his Microsoft stock without running the risk of deflating the value of the shares.
The SEC documents also said Allen intended to sell 200,000 shares, valued at $11.1 million, a fraction of his holdings. Shirley said he planned to sell 50,000 shares, worth $2.8 million. The total latest holdings of Allen and Shirley couldn't be immediately determined.