Melinda French Gates now owns $5.7bn in stock after divorce

After 27-year marriage to Bill Gates ended, his company Cascade transferred $2.4bn in shares

Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, might step down from her roles if she can no longer work with her ex-husband.  AP
Powered by automated translation

Days after finalising their divorce following 27 years of marriage, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates resumed the process of splitting up their public assets.

On Thursday, Mr Gates’s Cascade Investment conveyed 3.3 million shares of AutoNation, now worth about $387 million, to Ms French Gates, as well as 2.8 million shares of Deere & Co. valued at about $1 billion and 9.5 million shares of Canadian National Railway totalling in excess of $1bn, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The latest shifts come after Mr Gates transferred more than $3bn worth of shares, including stakes in the same three companies, in the weeks following their May 3 divorce announcement. It’s enough to make her one of the world’s richest people - the stocks alone are now worth more than $5.7bn, but it may only be part of the picture.

The specific details of how the ex-couple is splitting their enormous fortune reside in the separation contract that a judge in Washington State approved earlier this week.

The agreement isn’t public, so it’s not known how they’re divvying things up or the amount of other private assets French Gates may have received. Gates is worth about $150bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

A spokeswoman for French Gates and a Cascade representative didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Cascade, which is run by money manager Michael Larson, still owns significant stakes in AutoNation, Deere and Canadian National - 17 per cent, 8.5 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, according to Friday’s filings. Cascade also holds stakes in several other public companies that haven’t transferred shares to French Gates.

This week Mr Gates spoke publicly about the divorce and his association with late paedophile con man Jeffrey Epstein, whose meetings with Mr Gates may have caused strife in the latter’s marriage, according to the New York Times.

“I had several dinners with him hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts that he had might emerge, and when it looked like it wasn’t a real thing that relationship ended,” Mr Gates told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview. “It was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there.”

Mr Gates also said that he is still in contact with French Gates because they will continue to work together at their $65bn foundation. Last month, the foundation said Ms French Gates might step down from her roles there if the ex-couple can no longer work together. Mr Gates said he hopes that doesn’t happen.

“Melinda has incredible strengths that she brings,” Mr Gates said.

Updated: August 07, 2021, 8:11 AM