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Ballmer cuts stake in Microsoft with shares sale

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Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer cut his stake in the company by about 12 per cent late last week, after selling $1.3bn worth of shares.

It’s the first such stock sale by Big Steve in seven years and was done, according to Microsoft, to “diversify” the firm’s CEO’s investments and help plan for taxes.

The stock sale has, perhaps inevitably, been viewed by some as Ballmer’s slow walk towards the Redmond exit door, following his failure to drag Microsoft kicking and screaming into the tablet and mobile game, currently dominated by Apple.

Unsurprisingly, the MS boss wanted to make it clear that he was sticking with the company.

"Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion," said Ballmer, who has been Microsoft’s CEO since 2000.

"I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people's lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success."

Last week, Ballmer sold 49.3 million MS shares, at around $27 per share. And it doesn’t end there. He plans to sell up to 75 million shares by the end of 2010, leading to an 18 per cent drop in his remaining stake in the software vendor.

Prior to his early-November sale, Ballmer held 408 million shares in Microsoft. At present he holds 358.7 shares, or a little over four per cent of the firm.

His current stock in Microsoft is worth about $9.6bn. ®

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