For the first time in seven years, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is selling Microsoft’s stock. Reuters reported that Ballmer sold $1.3 billion worth of his shares, cutting his take in the company he runs by 12 percent.
Ballmer says that his first sale of stock in seven years should not be taken as a lack of confidence in the world’s biggest software company. Ballmer also said he will sell more shares by the end of the year in a move to diversify his investments and plan for taxes. The company sought to ease fears that Ballmer, 54 and CEO since 2000, plans to leave the company.
“Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion,” Ballmer said in a statement on the company’s website. “I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people’s lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success.”
Reuters noted that Microsoft’s shares are currently trading at 2002 levels, but Ballmer has not indicated that he plans to step down. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ballmer said he sold 49.3 million shares in the past three days at prices around $27 a share. Ballmer said he plans to sell 75 million shares by year end. He holds about 359 million shares, or 4.2 percent of the company. The shares are valued at $9.6 billion, making him the second-largest shareholder behind Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder. Gates has 621 million shares, or 7.2 percent.
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