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Microsoft’s tough times ahead – Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced


On May 3 at 11:37 pm GMT, shareholders of Microsoft Corp. and the subsidiaries of Cascade Investment found themselves face to face with devastating news: Bill and Melinda Gates filed for divorce. For several decades, the couple have run one of the largest fortunes in American history and have also been active in philanthropy. It’s hard to overestimate Microsoft’s impact on the entire tech market. In addition, the Gates family owns large portfolios of various businesses and real estate assets. They also influence world public institutions in the field of health care, climate change and various social issues. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, the couple’s combined wealth is estimated at $ 146 billion. Bill Gates, 65, is currently the fourth richest person for Forbes. And his 56-year-old wife, Melinda Gates, who previously served as a Microsoft manager, is well known for active philanthropy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose spending on aid in various areas has already exceeded $ 50 billion. In particular, Bill tweeted at Monday wrote: “After lengthy decisions and a lot of work on the relationship between us, we still decided to terminate it. We raised three wonderful children and created a charitable foundation that works for the health and productive life of all people on the planet. ” In a statement by e-mail, a representative of the Foundation reassured the public, assuring that the former spouses will remain co-representatives and trustees of the foundation: “No changes are planned in the activities or organization of the institution. The Gates will continue to work together on all current and strategic management issues. ” An online lawsuits resource confirmed the news: The couple filed a complaint on Monday in King County. A separation agreement was attached to it, but its terms were not specified. The initiator of the divorce was Mellinda, who called her marriage “irretrievably destroyed” in a lawsuit. Bill joined the lawsuit. This is the second high-profile divorce among the richest people in the world since the announcement of the separation of Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott in 2019. The split between the pair led to the split of Amazon.com Inc. and other family assets for two shares, making Mackenzie one of the richest women in the world overnight. She immediately spent a fairly large part of her fortune on philanthropy, sponsoring directions that are not obvious to an ordinary philanthropist. In the case of the Gates, however, things are a little more confusing. So, the division of their assets will be more difficult than the division of the fortune of the Bezos couple, who had a stake in Amazon as the main instrument. Bill Gates’ equity capital is still invested in Microsoft, but, according to analysts, the shares of his brainchild now account for no more than 20% of his portfolio. The prevailing share was redirected to a charitable foundation. And after leaving the Microsoft board of directors last year, the exact size of this share has not been disclosed. Gates’ leading asset is Cascade Investment, a holding company created by Bill on proceeds from the sale of Microsoft shares and dividends. The company is known for investments in real estate, energy and tourism. She is also a shareholder in dozens of companies such as Canadian National Railways or Deere & Co. Monica Mazzei, one of the leading divorce lawyers and partner at Sideman & Bancroft LLP in San Francisco, argues that much depends on how closely the couple is going to work together in the future. Despite the assurances of a representative of the Foundation, Monica notes that usually couples seek to distance themselves as much as possible in order to reduce the number of contacts. The same applies to family offices, whose assets are more often divided into two shares. The Gates’ divorce proceedings fall under the jurisdiction of Washington. The general rule of which for divorce proceedings states that the property acquired in marriage is to be divided in half between the spouses. But Janet George, a Washington DC-based family lawyer with McKinley Irvin, says it doesn’t have to be 50/50 in their case: “The judge is focusing on a fair division in the first place. This may be a greater or lesser share, depending on the participation of each spouse in the development of family well-being. ” She also claims that we will never know the true amount, since most of the section deal will be carried out by private contracts. All of this cannot but worry investors, because while the core of Microsoft’s governance has not been touched, Bill still owns a significant stake. Moreover, his position continues to influence management decisions within the company. After the news, the shares of the enterprise collapsed and continue to move downward. In general, everything indicates that this was a carefully planned act. Apparently, Bill’s exit from Microsoft a year earlier pursued primarily the goal of minimizing losses for the conglomerate, which will inevitably arise after the news of the divorce. However, the year for the company did not start very well anyway: the recent scandals over the discovered vulnerabilities in the mail service and the subsequent accusations of politicians in an attempt by a leading software developer to cash in on acceptable security have hit both the image and the stock quotes. market. The couple did not disclose the true reason for the divorce. However, knowing the background of their relationship can be a conservative assumption. The couple met in New York in the 1980s, some time after Mel started working at the company. Fun fact that was reflected in the Netflix documentary series “Inside Bill’s Brain”: the woman later recounted how she once entered the bedroom of her future husband and saw him in front of a blackboard divided into two halves. In one, he wrote out all the pros of a future marriage, and in the other – the cons. Then the pros seem to have outweighed. Philanthropy became the basis of the couple’s relationship. It is known that the day before the wedding in Hawaii, Bill’s mother, Mary, once again trying to convince her son to increase the amount of charity, gave Mal a letter with the words “From those who are given a lot, they expect a lot.” Just a few months later, Gates’ mother passed away. During a trip to Africa, Melinda managed to find a path to her husband’s heart. Later, she will say: “We fell in love with everything we saw, but in fact it would not be commonplace to say that we really fell in love with people.” It seems that it was Mel who initiated the filling out of the questionnaires to give Bill the opportunity to feel his true values. “That’s when we decided that the vast majority of Microsoft’s resources would return to society,” Mrs. Gates said. – It was an easy conversation. We just thought at first that charity would happen later in our lives. ” It is known that after last year’s dismissal from Microsoft, Bill began to devote more time to the activities of the Foundation. Previously, Mel was more independent in decisions and was able to quickly redirect financial flows towards increasing charitable allocations. It looks like Bill’s arrival at the Foundation has put an end to her many years of endeavors. With different approaches to the structure of expenditures, it is likely that the spouses could not come to a common denominator regarding the future policy of spending on charity. A hint of this is contained in the tweet of Bill, where he says that he and Melinda “do not believe that they can grow together as a couple in the next period of their lives.” Well, family expenses are a common stumbling block in couples. And it is obvious that even the strongest of this world are forced to solve the same problems as the rest of the world’s population. However, if the reason for the breakup really lies in the area of ​​finance, for the shareholders of many of the companies owned by Cascade Investment, this can be a signal to action. Perhaps Bill is going to return to big business with his shark rules, and is now trying to accumulate funds for this, reducing the costly part of the balance for charity. It is equally likely that family finances could be severely hit during the current crisis, as Bill also uses long leverage, which is increasingly causing the downfall of the investment giants. The more than real threat of inflation and Mel’s unwillingness to reckon with the new reality and listen to Bill’s arguments about the necessary cost cuts could have caused the gap. Only the future will show which version is more true. In the meantime, American investors need to be on the alert, especially with Microsoft stock. Recently, Bill Gates, who has recently been actively supporting the government’s actions, made a call not to invest in bitcoin, as the government does not have enough leverage to ensure the stability of this currency. Nevertheless, most investors saw an opportunity in the latest pullback in the cryptocurrency market, and they made the right decision. Bitcoin, gold and bonds continue to be in huge demand from day traders, who have competed with hedge funds this year. – Source: InstaForex

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