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Gates' gang sell shares, make huge wedges of cash

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Bill Gates and his Microsoft co-founder chum Paul Allen have been selling shares. Data from Microsoft's proxy statement just filed with the SEC shows that Gates sold $2.8 billion of Microsoft shares over the last year, and Allen $4.4 billion. The valuations are on the basis of last week's closing price. Gates has $57 billion of shares left (20.8 per cent, excluding Mrs Gates' $12 million), Allen £16 billion (5.8 per cent), with president Steve Ballmer languishing with $13 billion (4.8 per cent). Bill did not get his full bonus as it was "tied to corporate revenue and profit goals" that were not achieved. Steve's take home pay was $5,530 more than Bill's, however, because his bonus is bigger. COO Herbold received $1.18 million, Michael Lacombe (senior VP, EMEA and president of Microsoft Europe) $593,000, and Paul Maritz $516,000. That said, Intel's Andy Grove takes home $52 million, leading to some suggestions that senior Microsoft execs are underpaid. Ahem. A graph in the proxy statement showed how over a five-year period, Microsoft shareholders would have seen the value of their holdings increase at more than twice the rate of Nasdaq, and 3.5 times the S&P 500. There then followed the tongue-firmly-in-cheek management suggestion that past is not prelude. Microsoft shareholders can now cast votes via the Internet before the shareholders' meeting in November, when all seven Microsoft board members are up for re-election. There should be little trouble as Microsoft executives and staff own around half the company. The average age of the board is now 52. • In Gates' introduction to the annual report, he was muted about Windows CE: it was "finding its way" into interactive TV and hand helds was the extent of his hype. He expects to "more than double the WebTV installed base to over one million users during the next year on the very positive word-of-mouth this product has generated". "Online is still at an early stage of development," Gates said, which must be news to AOL. ® Click for more stories

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