Gates Foundation sold over $1B in stock ahead of divorce announcement

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The trust of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sold off $1.4 billion in stock in the first quarter of 2021, raking in a huge profit months before the billionaire couple announced their divorce. 

The foundation’s trust, one of the largest in the world, revealed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had sold all of its shares of Apple, Amazon and Twitter as of the end of March.

It’s not known at what price the trust sold its shares, but those holdings were valued at hundreds of millions of dollars based on average stock prices during the quarter.

The trust first bought shares of those three companies in the first quarter of 2020, filings show, indicating that they like made huge profits on those bets.

The trust also trimmed its massive holdings of FedEx, UPS and Walmart, among others, the filings show. The trust likely scored a windfall on those sales, too, based on the estimated average price paid for shares over time in those holdings.

It used some of its proceeds to buy a new $282 million position in Coupang, the South Korean e-commerce giant. Coupang went public in March.

All of the trust’s stock holdings as of the end of March totaled $20.96 billion, according to the filings, down from $22.34 billion as of the end of 2020. 

The sales came in the months leading up to the couple’s announcement earlier this month that they were splitting.

The couple’s divorce petition, which was filed in King County Superior Court in Washington state, indicated that they don’t have a prenuptial agreement to distribute their estimated $130 billion in assets.

Instead, the two have signed a separation contract for dividing their property and possessions, but the terms of that agreement have not been publicly disclosed in court documents.

Last week, Bill Gates transferred $850 million worth of Deere stock to his estranged wife, bringing the total in publicly disclosed transfers to over $3 billion. 

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