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 organizations on the planet. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away in excess of $50 billion to support healthcare, education, gender equality and efforts to combat climate change.
Gates, the 65-year-old co-founder of Microsoft Corp. is worth $144.2 billion, 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 U.S.
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 $12 billion, followed by an $11.8 billion 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 Gateses are also among the largest landowners in America and have homes including their 66,000 square-foot mansion in Medina, Washington.