New Delhi: Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates have announced that they were getting divorced after 27 years of marriage, though in a joint statement they said that they will continue to work together at their foundation.
They have three children and jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is based in Seattle, with Chief Executive Mark Suzman. The foundation says it had spent more than $54 billion on projects by the end of 2019.
The divorce announcement puts focus on the couple’s sprawling Seattle-based organisation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had reported total net assets of USD 43.3 billion at the end of 2019.
Bill, who is one of the richest people in the world, has often emphasized in interviews that his children should only inherit a small part of his wealth.
Gates was Microsoft’s CEO until 2000 and since then has gradually scaled back his involvement in the company he started with Paul Allen in 1975. He transitioned out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft in 2008 and served as chairman of the board until 2014.
The foundation said in a statement that the two would remain co-chairs and trustees and no changes were expected at the organisation. “They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues and set the organisation’s overall direction,” the statement said.
Late last year, the Foundation had announced new commitments totalling USD 70 million to global efforts to develop and distribute safe, affordable, and timely vaccines for low-and middle-income countries amid the COVID19 pandemic.
The couple met in the late 1980s when Melinda joined Microsoft. They dated for a few years before marrying in January 1994 in Hawaii.
Bill, formerly the world’s richest person, was named by Forbes as the fourth richest person in the world with a net worth of 124 billion dollars.
As per a Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the couple together commands an estimated $146 billion worth of assets. Now the question is that how is the couple going to divide it?
Since Bill Gates’ has shifted most of his stake from Microsoft after resigning from the company last year into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates’s biggest asset currently is Cascade Investment, a holding company that he had created with the proceeds of Microsoft stock sales and dividends. It is run by Michael Larson.
Several top notch US lawyers have now got into a divided opinion of sorts on how the couple will divide their assets. Meanwhile, Janet George, a family lawyer in Washington with the firm McKinley Irvin said that it is not mandatory to split the assets in halves, adding that the courts can ‘award more or less, depending on what is just and equitable’.