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Eric Schmidt to unload 42% of his Google stake

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Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has announced plans to sell off nearly half of his stake in the online ad giant over the next 12 months.

According to an SEC filing on Friday, Schmidt – who served as Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011 – currently owns around 7.6 million Class A and Class B shares in the company, representing roughly 2.3 per cent of its outstanding stock.

The filing states that Schmidt plans to sell up to approximately 3.2 million Class A shares, or roughly 42 per cent of his stake, under a stock trading plan that will be in effect for a one-year period beginning in February 2013.

The shares won't all go at once, but instead will be sold gradually over the course of the year to reduce the effect of the sales on Google's share price. Were Schmidt to dump all of his shares at today's price, they would net him approximately $2.5bn.

The move is a repeat performance for Schmidt, who announced plans to sell 2.4 million shares in last February's SEC filing.

How much this year's sell-off will affect Schmidt's influence over the Chocolate Factory was not immediately clear. His current holdings give him around 8.2 per cent voting power, according to Google's SEC filing.

It's worth noting, however, that Google's Class A shares don't confer as much voting power as the Class B variety. Each Class A share confers one vote, while each Class B confers ten – and Schmidt hasn't said anything about selling his Class B shares.

Still, Schmidt's role at Google has been considerably diminished since he handed over the CEO chair to Larry Page in 2011. He once quipped that his job as chief exec was to provide "adult supervision" for Page and cofounder Sergey Brin. Upon stepping down to become executive chairman, he observed that such guidance was no longer needed.

If Schmidt is planning a gradual departure from Google, however, he will still have plenty to keep himself busy. Currently he is the cofounder of Innovation Endeavors, an early-stage venture fund, and he also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the New America Foundation, a left-leaning public policy think tank.

Neither Schmidt nor Google has issued any public statement on the matter. ®

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