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St Zuck gives half a BEELLION DOLLARS in Facebook stock to charity

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Mark Zuckerberg has given half a billion dollars to charity - in Facebook stock. The Facebook CEO has donated 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, where the money will go to health and education causes.

Zuckerberg's $498.78m gift doesn't make too much of a dent on his stock holdings - he had approximately 444 million shares, and sold 30 million of them off at launch. Minus the new gift, the blue-eyed boy of social networking still has 396 million shares left, plus there's a further 60 million issuable on the exercise of an option. At current prices, that's a nice $9.9bn cushion.

Zuckerberg announced the donation on his Facebook page, giving a puff to an earlier charity push he and wife Priscilla Chan had supported - which handed cash to schoolkids in Newark.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has been in the news for cashing out of Facebook stock early, moves that have netted her at least $42m to date but given investors the jitters. Zuckerberg had promised not to sell out of Facebook stock, but has obviously made an exception for this charitable donation.

Zuckerberg's gift is generous. It would have been more generous at the IPO launch price of $38 per share when the 18 million shares would have been worth $684m, but with share prices currently at $27.79 it still brings in $498.78m.

The charity, and presumably the future recipients of the health and educational aid, will be hoping that Facebook stock doesn't teeter back down to its lowest ebb of $17.55 (back in September) - which would make the holding worth only $316m.

The charity - the Silicon Valley Community Foundation - describes its work as "strategic grant-making on education, economic security, immigrant integration, regional planning and a community opportunity fund that responds to urgent needs, such as food and shelter."

In 2012 the institution has made its grants to mainly US charities: including those providing legal services for immigrants, maths teaching, and programmes to prevent foreclosure for Americans who are struggling to keep up payments. ®

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