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Gates divorce: Bill gives Melinda $3bn in shares

Bill Gates has transferred nearly $3 billion of shares to his estranged wife Melinda since the couple filed for divorce, according to a report.

Melinda French Gates received $850 million of shares in Deere & Company, a farming equipment manufacturer, last week as one of the world’s wealthiest couples carved up their fortune.

The Microsoft co-founder transferred 2.25 million shares in Deere last Thursday through Cascade Investment, a holding company he set up to manage the proceeds of his Microsoft share sales and dividends. The transfer equated to about 7 per cent of his stake in the firm, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The filing said that Gates received “no consideration” for the transfer of shares to Melinda. Cascade declined to give further comment to the newspaper.

Shares in three other companies, worth almost $3 billion, were transferred to Melinda after the announcement of their divorce earlier this month. This included 2.9 million shares in the automotive retailer AutoNation, 14.1 million shares in Canadian National Railway, and 293.5 million shares in the media company Grupo Televisa.

Gates, 65, and his estranged wife, 56, filed for divorce on May 4 after 27 years of marriage. The couple’s combined net worth has been estimated at $124 billion.

Gates co-founded Microsoft with his late childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975 and built it into one of the largest companies in the world. He was already one of the world’s wealthiest people when he met Melinda French, a marketing manager at the company, in 1987.

The couple have said that they intend to continue working with their philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” they said earlier this month.