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Eric Schmidt to cash in $1.45bn Google shares

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Google chairman Eric Schmidt plans to sell off $1.45bn (£914m) shares in the company - a move that represents his biggest annual disposal in the company.

According to a regulatory filing submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on 17 February, the one-time chief of the Chocolate Factory will cut his share ownership of the company by about 0.7 per cent over the coming year.

At the end of 2011 Schmidt, 56, owned around 9.1 million shares of Class A and Class B common stock, or a 2.8 per cent chunk in Google. The chairman plans to offload 2.4 million shares of Class A common stock.

"[A]ssuming all shares are sold under the trading plan, Eric would own approximately 6.7 million shares, which would represent as of such date approximately 2.1 per cent of Google’s outstanding capital stock and approximately 7.3 per cent of the voting power of Google’s outstanding capital stock," the SEC filing said. Google's share price closed on Friday at $604 although the filing came after the market closed.

On record, at least, Google said that Schmidt's decision to cut loose so much stock in one go would help the company chairman to "diversify his investment portfolio". Or perhaps Schmidt is preparing for life beyond the Googleplex: some have talked of him pursuing a political career, and he's also said to be considering hosting his own TV show.

As of January 2010, Schmidt held 12 per cent of Google's common stock.

Whatever way you look at it, Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011 will still own a significant amount of shares in the company. After the sale he'll have stock worth about $4bn in the world's largest ad broker - hardly small change for a man who once vowed to work with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin until 2024. ®

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