Speculation surrounding the financial aspect of Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce after 27 years of marriage has been in the air since the initial announcement earlier this week. Further uncertainty has dispersed in the proverbial water due to how the billionaire philanthropist couple reportedly have no prenuptial agreement – although CNBC has indicated something known as a separation agreement, also known as a postnuptial agreement, is in place to guide how assets will be divided. Today, the first confirmation of a financial transfer has been made as an investment firm controlled by the Microsoft founder directs over US$1.8 billion (AU$2.3 billion) worth of stock to his former wife.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Cascade Investment LLC – which manages a great portion of the wealth accrued by Bill Gates from Microsoft – ceded ownership of over 14 million shares in Canadian National Railway Co. valued at approximately US$1.53 billion, as well as 2.9 million shares in AutoNation Inc. valued at approximately US$310.1 million to Melinda Gates (née: French). This represents 2% of the former company’s total shares and 3% of the latter company’s total shares. And as Bill and Melinda have a collective estimated net worth exceeding US$130 billion, this could very well just be the tip of the iceberg.
Despite the impending legal proceedings to dissolve their union as husband and wife, both parties will continue to work in collaboration via The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to distribute funds amongst worthy causes, with the overarching objective to combat poverty, education inequality, and disease around the world. The organisation currently employs 1,600 staff members internationally, retains an endowment in the airspace of US$50 billion, and consistently donates generously on an annual basis.
“While this is obviously a difficult time of personal change for our co-chairs, together they have assured me of their continued commitment to the foundation that they have worked so hard to build together over the past 20 years,” says Mark Suzman, Chief Executive of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The Gates Foundation is the most important and influential philanthropic entity in the world today,” says Professor Rob Reich at Stanford University.
And so it begins…