Melinda French Gates gets billions in shares from Cascade

Melinda and Bill gates. File pic

NEW YORK: Cascade Investment, the holding company created by Bill Gates, transferred stock in two of Mexico’s largest companies to Melinda French Gates, bringing the total amount she’s received in the past few days to more than US$2bil (RM8.24bil).

Cascade moved stock in Coca-Cola FEMSA and Grupo Televisa to her control, according to regulatory filings dated May 3, the same day the Gates’s announced they were ending their 27-year marriage.

Cascade shifted about US$1.8bil of shares in Canadian National Railway Co and AutoNation Inc this week to French Gates, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Their separation is expected to involve a wealth transfer on a scale that’s only been seen in a few other divorces, though few details have yet emerged.

It could also have ramifications for one of the most important philanthropic organisations on the planet.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away in excess of US$50bil to support healthcare, education, gender equality and efforts to combat climate change.

Gates, the 65-year-old co-founder of Microsoft Corp is worth US$144.2bil, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

French Gates, 56, is a former Microsoft manager who’s gained international prominence co-running the foundation, and more recently for starting Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company to advance “social progress” in the United States.

Bill Gates’s biggest asset is Cascade Investment, which he created with the proceeds of Microsoft stock sales and dividends. Cascade oversees a vast portfolio comprising real estate, energy and hospitality as well as stakes in dozens of public companies.

The biggest public position is agricultural-machinery maker Deere & Co, with Cascade holding more than 10% of the stock valued at about US$12bil, followed by a US$11.8bil stake in waste-collection company Republic Services Inc, Bloomberg data show.

That’s followed by Canadian National and Ecolab Inc.

Most of the portfolio, overseen by money manager Michael Larson, is comprised of North American companies, but it also owns stock in Diageo Plc, the world’s largest distiller, and London-based private-jet services firm Signature Aviation Plc.

The Gates’s are also among the largest landowners in America and have homes including their 66,000 sq-ft mansion in Medina, Washington. — Bloomberg

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