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Bill and Melinda Gates file for divorce with a stake of $146 billion dollars

It’s hard to predict how the most valuable divorce of all time will end. Sharing the wealth of Bill and Melinda Gates can be much more complicated than that of the founder of Amazon, but it’s certain that, like MacKenzie Scott, Bill Gates ’ex-wife is well versed in the sudden arrival of wealth for charity.

The roads of Melinda French and Bill Gates met in 1987. Gates was already a good party even then: after the shares of Microsoft, founded 12 years earlier by him and his childhood friend Paul Allen, were listed on the stock exchange in 1986, Gates became the youngest billionaire.

Their shared passion with Melinda was programming, which the Dallas girl began to pursue while in high school. He then continued his studies at Duke, where he graduated in programming and economics in five years. She then went to Microsoft as part of an MBA program where she was the youngest and only woman of the seven admitted – this is what Mike Slade, a former head of marketing at Microsoft, talks about in Netflix’s Everything Bill Gates documentary series. Melinda moved quickly up the ladder, soon after becoming responsible for product development for hundreds of people and later responsible for multimedia projects such as the launch of Expedia.

The CEO and young staff met back in 1987 at a corporate event in New York where they happened to sit side by side at dinner. They met again months later, by this time in the parking lot of the Vermont company, where they accidentally parked next to each other. Bill Gates then invited his nine-year-old colleague on a date.

None of them took the relationship really seriously in the beginning: “he had friends, me and Microsoft,” Bill Gates said in the documentary. Marriage also took a long time, according to Melinda Gates, because they did not dare to commit. “I went into the bedroom once and saw him put arguments on the felt board for and against marriage,” he told Netflix.

It soon became clear that math, puzzle and programming were their common passions and charity. They were still engaged when they visited Africa. “We fell in love with everything we saw, but most people. But we asked ourselves a series of questions about what’s going on here? ” Recalled Melinda Gates in 2016. In this way, they also filled out a series of questions about what values ​​they considered important. It was decided that a significant portion of their income from Microsoft would be used for social purposes.

The couple got married in 1994 on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The news of the exclusive event was reportedly spent $ 1 million – a significant portion of which was not the cake, but to ensure the smooth running of the event.

Microsoft instead of foundation

Shortly after the marriage, the couple’s charity was formed, and since then, more than $ 29 billion has been donated, with the foundation’s fortune now set at $ 50 billion.

Gates spent more and more of his time on foundation work. His retirement began as early as 2000: when he handed over the CEO to Steve Ballmer. From 2008, he also retired from day-to-day operational work to leave more time for his foundation. In 2014, he also handed over Microsoft’s presidency to Satya Nadella, and since then, until 2020, he has served as a board member in the company’s work.

Although like marriage, equality between the two parties was considered important in the foundation, Melinda felt marginalized. Therefore, the foundation was reorganized in 2006 and was renamed Willam H. Gates to replace Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda Gates told Netflix about the division of labour: “Bill is great at developing a toilet. But he doesn’t think, for example, that that toilet needs to be developed so that a mother can bring her small child in. ”

The toilet is not an aerial example: one of the foundation’s important projects is developing and installing hygienic toilets in underdeveloped parts of the world. The foundation has also launched several educational and health initiatives but is also active in combating the coronavirus: more than $ 1.75 billion has been offered to combat the epidemic, and 100 million vaccines have been offered to poorer countries.

At the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gates resigned from the Microsoft board last March, devoting more time to philanthropic purposes. He also resigned from the board of Berkshire Hathaway, an investment firm.

Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett
© AFP / NICHOLAS ROBERTS

Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett has an old friendship, and in 2010 another charity initiative was launched together. Giving Pledge aims to persuade the world’s richest businessmen to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. More than two hundred have already joined the initiative, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott. As Marketwatch noted in its article on the tenth anniversary of the initiative last year, the only problem is that due to the soaring stock market, the wealth of the rich is growing at a much faster rate than the offerings, so many have come a long way from the 50 per cent commitment.

Melinda Gates is also active outside the joint foundation: in 2015, she founded the investment company Pivotal Ventures, which embraces American businesses and initiatives that strengthen social equality. As part of this, she collaborates with MacKenzie Scott: they will be donating $ 40 million as part of their women’s equal opportunities tender.

What about the wealth?

The parties promise that the operation of the jointly managed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will remain unchanged even after the divorce. However, wealth sharing is already a much trickier issue. Although under Washington state law, property acquired at the time of marriage is considered joint, half-owned by the husband and wife, this does not necessarily mean that the property should be divided into two equal parts during the divorce.

The answer to the question is also complicated because, in contrast to the most valuable divorce lawsuit so far, the Bezosek, which has been litigating for two years, the wealth is divided here. While Amazon’s founder’s assets were largely made up of shares in his company, which were relatively easy to share, in Gates’s case, Microsoft’s shares are less than twenty per cent. Of course, this is no small amount of money: the former leader owns only 1.36 per cent of the company’s securities, but it also represents $ 26 billion for the company, currently valued at $ 1.88 trillion. A lot of money has been transferred to the foundation. Gates is also interested in a holding company called Cascade Investment, which is also established from the sale of Microsoft shares or dividends earned from the company. It has interests in numerous companies.

To be sure, if the wealth is divided in half, Melinda Gates will be the 16th richest man in the world and the 3rd richest woman with her $ 65 billion in wealth.

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